The smell of cookies and the aroma of God’s promises chase away loneliness.
As I sit here at my computer, the aromas of chocolate and peanut butter fill the air. As I catch a whiff of my two favorite scents, I remember this Bible passage: “Thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ and reveals the fragrance of his knowledge through us in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
But the smells of chocolate and peanut butter bring back another memory. The aromas remind me of when we were surrounded by others.
I’m sitting in another room, and my wife is in the kitchen. It’s just the two of us now. It’s a bit lonely. One of the things that she and I struggle with is the idea of loneliness. You may be in the same spot. A recent report revealed that 36 percent of all Americans—including 61 percent of young adults and 51 percent of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.”* Not surprisingly, loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
For us octogenarians, it sometimes gets so overwhelming that we talk about it in terms of a dark cloud that on occasion seems to block out all the sunshine in our lives. This feeling comes and goes but seems to be pressing down on us more and more. We don’t get out much anymore. Most of the trips we take are to the clinic, the pharmacy, or the grocery store. More often than not, we receive texts about someone’s death. The friends and family far away are simply gone, and we’re more lonely.
Even though our children and their families all live within driving distance and everyone in our family constellation is tech-savvy, there are fewer occasions when we get together to enjoy each other’s company. Their lives are busy, and we don’t often hear from them. If they don’t hear from us, they leave us alone because we’re “okay.” But the fact is: We are lonely.
Oh, yes, we try to help ourselves by attending e-church, participating in Zoom Bible classes, and watching Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s daily devotions on Facebook. We’ve even figured out Facetime and Skype and use our smartphones to surf the Net. Each of us also has a solitary hobby. Note the word solitary. It’s just not the same when close personal interaction with other friends, neighbors, and relatives is missing. I call loneliness the “cocoon” of aging.
There is hope, however. The Lord rescues us from our loneliness with cookies. The aromas I smell bring not just a reminder of a Bible passage. They mean something good is going to break the loneliness.
The recipe is simple. First, take two Hi Ho crackers; slather one of them on one side with full-bodied, creamy peanut butter; and stick them together. But that’s just the beginning. Then you dip them in melted, sweetened chocolate and place them on cookie sheets in a refrigerator to set. When my wife makes these, our whole house is filled with the aroma. It reminds me that something good is about to happen. It means that we’re going to get company! I know that our grandchildren will soon appear to dispel our loneliness.
But those cookies and their sweetness don’t just remind me of a visit from our loved ones. They’re also another sweet reminder of God’s love and care and how he visits us through all of life’s cycles.
The cook in our house has used the ordinary to make something extraordinary to be shared. Sound familiar? It’s the memories of God’s love and happy times with our children. When our kids were much younger, we would have cookie-making sessions. Oh, what fun we had! On those days we’d gather all the stuff we needed, clear our schedules, and make the biggest mess in our kitchen. Our favorite cookies were cutouts. They’re easy to make, fun to decorate, and, oh, how wonderfully the smells of them baking filled the air. And yes, they were an inexpressible joy to eat!
What really mattered, however, was not so much the eating but the process that brought us all together to do something that we enjoyed. I was in charge of the hot oven, my wife was the teacher and supervisor, and each one of the kids had a job according to their ages and interests. One made the colored frosting. Another used the star cookie cutter, and someone else would put colored sugar, candy pieces, or crushed hard candy on the tops. When cleanup time came, each of us wanted to lick a spoon or dip a finger in the frosting bowl. Then everyone got involved in choosing the favorite first cookie to eat. How powerfully such a simple activity brought us all together. How amazing that the chocolate and peanut butter aromas bring the memories back to savor.
It seems to me that young families, lonely single moms, and confused kids might do some cookie-making to help push back the darkness of loneliness. Even singles, young or old, could make some cookies to give away or share.
No matter where we go or what season of the year it may be, the smell of baking cookies can help dispel our loneliness. Sharing them with other lonely people can bring us joy and companionship. For all of this we are thankful.
Our sharing of the good news of Jesus has the same effect no matter where we are or with whom we may be.
Think about the lowly birth of Jesus and his purpose for coming. Our brokenness separates us from God. This separation is not what God wants. Once in close communion with his children, he was separated from them by the loneliness of sin. Prompted by eternal love, he took action. He sent his son Jesus as the Redeemer-Savior. The Christ Child was born in a stable to redeem the world! He did that when he died on the cross for all humankind. That terrible death was a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. It was through that awful event that God brought the family of the world together. We are no longer isolated and alone. Jesus’ resurrection signaled God’s acceptance of that sacrifice and forgiveness for everyone.
In our world of loneliness, there is a great need for the sweetness of this good news. May we respond by sharing the cookies for loneliness with others as we recall our victory over loneliness in Jesus.
In God’s promises we have that victory: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be overwhelmed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
The Scripture references used in this article are from the Evangelical Heritage Version.
Author: Frederick A. Kogler
Volume 109, Number 06
Issue: June 2022