I’m sure we all have a story, a moment in the last couple of weeks, when we realized that—for possibly one of the first times in our lives—the thing on the news was not only really happening, but it was really going to affect us.
Mine goes like this. My husband was back at work for the second time since my newborn son had been born (a week and one day after his birth) and I was coping by putting on a show for my two-year-old, nursing the newborn, and catching up on facebook. My feed was full of posts about this new virus and yet I continued to feel like I always have when reading scary posts on facebook, “Yea, that’s terrible. But certainly that won’t affect me.” Because, honestly, that’s how I’ve felt my whole life. All those horrible things are happening somewhere, to someone, but certainly they won’t happen to me.
But after a bit more scrolling, I started to realize that it wasn’t just grocery stores abroad or in big cities who were running out of things. So I texted my husband and asked if maybe we should do an extra grocery run. And that was it. The first moment that this big scary thing impacted me, even if it was in a relatively small way. Now, almost two weeks later I haven’t left the house essentially at all since I delivered my son and I’m starting to realize just how much of my life I’ve spent living in a bubble thinking that nothing could touch me.
As an extrovert, not being able to get out of my house and see my family and friends is definitely affecting me. I wanted my son’s first month of life to be full of meeting loved ones with warm family and friend snuggles, and it’s so hard to just stay at home with no relief. But the sad thing is, that I am paying the smallest cost imaginable. This virus has taken so much from so many, and I fear there is much more to come. And the fear of that, coupled with isolation, can be crippling. In fact, I think to many—maybe you?—it already is crippling.
In the conversations I am having with my loved ones, I see that I am not the only one struggling. Staying home for unforeseeable amount of time, waiting to see whether or not this virus is going to hurt someone we love, is not only getting hard, it’s getting really hard. And not just for me, for many of us.
I find myself almost daily reassuring my loved ones struggling with depression and anxiety that I will pray for them. “Sending prayers!” I found myself saying that a lot lately. About a week into quarantine, my husband’s grandmother was transferred from the hospital to hospice care, and of course I said I was praying for her and for the whole family. Then, a few days later, I had a friend begin to show some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and I told her I’d pray for her. Another friend’s child is teething, so I’m “sending prayers!” And then Grandma passed. And suddenly I realized how much I’d been saying that I would pray, but how much had I really been praying?
And then it occurred to me that maybe, despite all the virtual connections I was making, maybe I still felt lonely because God had created us as social creatures, to live in community and fellowship WITH Him.Yes, I’d sent passing prayers over my loved ones and their concerns, before bed, before meals. But mostly, I’d spent my days bemoaning my isolation and had given God these tiny moments out of duty and habit. Here, in my confinement, He had surrounded me with messages from the people I loved reaching out to me for prayers and I had tuned Him out and tuned into Netflix instead.
Now I am not saying there isn’t a place for Netflix in all of this. What I am saying is that God is listening. We are not quarantined from Him, although that is exactly what the devil would like you to believe. The devil wants you to feel isolated and alone because it makes you vulnerable to his attacks. But Christ wants you to LEAN ON HIM, because “He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” The Holy Spirit is our community when we feel alone. Our Father is the cure when our anxiety feels terminal. Jesus is our hope when the world is making us feel hopeless.
And, you know what? He gets it. He gets how you are feeling. Here’s how I know why:
When my family tuned into virtual church on Sunday, we heard the story of Lazarus. For those who may not know, this story contains the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” For some reason in my youth, I thought this verse was in the story of Jesus’ prayer before his crucifixion when he asked the Father to take this cup from him, but it’s not. Jesus wasn’t crying over His own fate, He wasn’t weeping over the pain that was most certainly about to befall Him, He was weeping for his lost friend. He was weeping for two of his children, Mary and Martha, because seeing them hurting hurt Him. And even though Jesus knew He could (and would) raise Lazarus, He was weeping because temporarily Lazarus had been taken from Him.
And instantly I thought of the isolation I’d been feeling, the pain that me and my husband’s family had been feeling with the loss of his grandmother, and the fear of losing more of the people in my life. Jesus had cried those tears too. He gets it. He gets what you’re going through right now, no shame, no excuses necessary. He understands your pains and your struggles and wants to help.
He wants to be your community right now. He wants you to lean on Him and to know that you are not alone in this time of fear and uncertainty. You may be stuck in quarantine, but you don’t have to be isolated. Now is the time to reach out to your friends and family, seek out connections online or over the phone, and take care of yourself and your family. If you start to feel overwhelmed, get the help you need by calling your doctor, therapist, or counselor, because that doesn’t mean you are not trusting God. On top of those things, I urge you to seek HIM out. Pray for yourself and for your friends and family, create a prayer list so you actually pray for those when you say you will, send prayers of thanksgiving, read your Bible, find a devotional to follow… do one of these things or all of these things. Throw yourself into the love of Christ, the arms of a God who loves you, who created you, and who gets it… who gets YOU.