Happy quarantine, day twenty-one. Not sure when your quarantine began, but for Eric and me it began three weeks ago today. How are we doing, you ask? Eric is just great. He has not left the yard, even to drive around the block, and is doing excellently. Me? I am not twitching yet, but I can feel it coming! To keep sane, I have worked primarily under a tree in our backyard. It is amazing what the fresh air does for… well… some of us!
How are you doing? It is rare when I write about a current event which touches us all. So often, my experience is limited to my region or country, but COVID-19 has touched all of us in some way. My heart aches for the brides and grooms who had to cancel or postpone their weddings. To the expectant parents who approach delivery and face so many unknowns. To the elderly who miss their children and grandchildren and would give almost anything for a hug. And, most of all, to the suffering patients and the families who lost loved ones to this silent monster – a beast who came out of nowhere and completely enveloped their world.
These are tough times for our world; and, as is often the case, tough times come with great blessings if we look for them.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, ESV)
For those who are in Christ (that is, have placed their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and are striving after righteousness), this verse is a great comfort.
Wait, this Feels Familiar
These trepidatious days remind me of another trial we experienced. Three and a half years ago, our world was considerably shaken. Much like this virus, Eric’s health took a sudden turn. While I was visiting my parents in North Carolina, he messaged me that he was not feeling great. Just a few days later, he was in the hospital where he ended up staying eleven days and had three surgeries. During that time, I was afraid. I was anxious. On one embarrassing occasion, I burst into tears talking to the lady at the McDonald’s drive thru. What was happening?! My husband was fine. Strong. In the prime of his life. How could this be our new reality?
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3, ESV)
In the middle of that haze, it was hard to see the good. Tears have a way of blurring what is true, but also a way of clearing our hearts and minds so we can see what is true. During that time, we received so much prayer and support. People watched our dog, sent encouraging messages, and let us know we were not alone.
As Eric laid there in that hospital bed, every fight or disagreement we ever had seemed trivial. (“God, please don’t take my husband.”) Eric, strong as always, said, “If this is God’s time to take me, then His will be done.” Sometimes we have to walk through painful times and unfamiliar territories to realize what matters and what does not. Being right did not matter in those eleven days. Being loved the way I “deserved” to be loved was not on my mind. The bucket of past failures I am tempted to pour on Eric when he hurts my feelings stayed tucked away in the corner of my mind. Nothing mattered except him recovering and getting well.
Even after his hospital release, he faced a long road of healing; but, in true Eric fashion, he did not let it slow him down. God’s grace was so evident in those times – highlighted in ways we often miss when we are not in the middle of a trying season. Though I hope we do not have to walk through such a valley again, I am thankful for how God ministered to us as I cried and we prayed.
We are such a distracted people, are we not? It is hard to see God in all our busyness – even our ministerial pursuits. Let’s take this quarantine time as a gift. Ask Him, “Lord, what do you want me to see, learn, repent of, and take joy in during this hiatus from ‘normal’ life?”
God’s Word is a Healing Balm to our Souls
Below are ten Scripture passages to remind us all to keep our minds on God’s promises. He is still in control.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, ESV)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1, ESV)
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10, ESV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10, ESV)
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7, ESV)
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:30-34, ESV)
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. (Psalm 94:19, ESV)
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7, ESV; my favorite passage)
Keep Looking Up!
As we continue down this strange path in front of us, let us take the time to refocus our minds and hearts of our Lord and Savior. How often do we have an opportunity like this to take a step back and re-evaluate our lives? What is the Lord telling you? What Scripture is He bringing to your mind? How does He want to minister to you?
Please enjoy this awesome song from the 1990s duo, Aaron Jeoffrey – a timeless reminder of God’s sovereignty: He Is.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26, ESV)
Which glimpses of God’s grace are you seeing during the COVID-19 crisis?