Are we missing it—the point of our isolation?
I started off this period of social distancing wanting to do “all the things.” In my mind, it sounded feasible—responsible, even—to set a new routine, make time for passion projects, clean out my closet, learn to bake bread, and come up with daily craft projects for my inquisitive toddler.
About 10 days into quarantine, I was gently convicted of and humbled by the unnecessary pressure I was placing on myself and my family. Our culture has been obsessed with the hustle mindset for far too long, and we’re dying. It is suffocating us. Our anxiety is rampant; depression crouches at the door, and we’re engaged in a constant war for our minds. Even in our cushy Christian circles, we can’t escape the unspoken demands to do more, better, faster; with greater outreach and impact.
Suddenly, God has allowed this virus to shut it all down. I believe it’s one of the greatest gifts from a good Father that our generation will ever see.
And yet, our sin nature has hard-wired us to avoid discomfort and difficulty at all costs. We mask our efforts to control everything around us by calling it adaptability. We think we’re clever as we hide behind smiles and another “I’m fine. How are you?” The truth is, we just genuinely don’t know how to sit in a mess and feel the brokenness. We don’t like to acknowledge the losses we’ve endured because of COVID-19. We don’t want to admit when we feel afraid of the future unknowns, heartbroken for strangers fighting for their lives while separated from loved ones, or frustrated by the lack of supplies for our medical community. We try to hide our irritation at our children who are driving us nuts after several weeks in the house, or that we’re lonely. It feels selfish to bring those types of hurts to the table in light of what others are enduring right now.
When things don’t go our way, we pivot, problem-solve, and protect our tribe. We spring into action with new plans to sustain our businesses and ministries. We reach out to help our neighbors. We visit family through windows. Some of us will sew masks for healthcare heroes, and others will hoard toilet paper. Maybe some of us will do both.
But in the midst of all our “doing,” do we remember to pause and declare like the Psalmist:
“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable…On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works I will meditate…The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made…The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works…The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” (Ps. 145: 3, 5, 9, 13b, 18-19 ESV, emphasis mine).
Because if we don’t, we will waste our quarantine. We will miss the grace and goodness of God in the gift of slowness he has presented to us.
If we meditate on the philanthropic works of others rather than the wondrous works of the LORD, even helpfulness has become an idol. If we replace striving in our office building with striving on social media, we’ve simply experienced a change in location—not our hearts. If we call on a daily update of coronavirus statistics, but not Jesus, we’ll never have true peace.
When life as we know it becomes disrupted, the condition of our hearts is revealed. As trivial comforts, conveniences, and preferences are stripped away one by one, we must stare a single looming question in the face:
Do I truly treasure Christ?
See, as the time of social distancing extends, so does our opportunity to be tempted by worthless things. As isolation increases, so should our dependence on our Heavenly Father. But when we take an honest look at our decisions and reactions to a global pandemic, I fear many of us may find that our actions and attitudes betray us.
What then? How can we course-correct?
Simple. Do not continue to fight—except through prayer and the Word—what God has allowed to enter our lives in this season. With all of its disappointments and struggles, this suffering can be used to bring glory to Him. He wastes nothing.
He is still good, kind, and merciful to all he has made. He is trustworthy, faithful, and the only One able to save. He alone is enough for us both in this life and the next. If we believe that fully, we will remain at his feet in awe and trembling, in praise and thanksgiving for all He has done and is still yet to do. We will seek His face. We will choose to knead the truth of His Word deep into our hearts before we choose to knead bread for a well-filtered Instagram post.
And as such, we will not waste our isolation. Press on, friends! Our King is coming soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Setterlind: Ashley is a pastor’s wife, mama of two, and worship leader at LibertyLive.Church in Hampton Roads, VA. She is passionate about encouraging other moms to glorify God in their mundane moments by being deeply rooted in Christ. To read more, visit @deeplyrootedmotherhood on Instagram and Facebook or her personal blog at www.ashleysetterlind.com.