It goes without saying that 2020 has been one of the craziest years our generation has ever experienced. Most of the changes we’ve endured have been unwelcome: masks in public, social distancing, virus testing, quarantine, thousands of online applications versus in-person conversations…and the list goes on and on. As a whole we feel stretched thin and stressed. We have adapted and will continue to, but our attitudes are growing grim.
This last week I experienced my first mandatory quarantine. One of my family members tested for the virus and we had to lockdown until we received the results. Let me share some of the lessons I learned in quarantine. First, rest is good but forced rest can be very frustrating. We got a week off together with our family. We knocked out quite a few projects at home. We watched movies, ate hot breakfasts together and played in the yard. All the while in my mind, I’m thinking of all the things I needed to be doing at work that I couldn’t do. Rest was good and welcomed but to be forced to was not welcomed.
Next, online worship is helpful but is a poor substitute for the real thing. We worshipped online for our third time during the virus. I’m thankful we can see and hear our friends. I’m thankful we can sing together with the Body. I’m thankful we can have the Word spoken over us. But that’s where it ends. The screen just doesn’t cut it. When we compare online to in person worship, there is really no comparison. Hearing the Body sing, listening to the Body pray, agreeing together in person with the Word of the Lord…these are things we are made to do in person, not online. I can’t wait to be back together this week.
Also, Facebook can be a means of keeping in touch but there is no real permanent solution to our isolation other than person to person touch. We can lose ourselves in social media for hours – scrolling, liking, pinning and commenting. But no real consequence ever comes of it. We are rarely, if ever, challenged. We build no serious relationships through it. The good we find in it can be scrolled past as soon as our attention span calls for a change of scenery. No, the only solution to a lack of growth or connection to the Body is actual, in person participation.
We like to think we are the first people going through this kind of thing, but we are not. Societies have been dealing with quarantine for years. You remember Ebola, SARS and Bird Flu in recent years, right? Same implications just on a much smaller scale. Moving into Biblical history we see them quarantining people with disease. Lepers are the most common. Jesus broke through those barriers, touching anyone who approached Him and healing those who believed. But still lepers were a small portion of the total population. I remember a story in their history when God quarantined the entire population of Israel…for 40 years! Are you tracking with me?
The people of Israel watched God deliver them with fire, water, food from the sky and water from the rock. He thwarted their enemies more times than they could count. And when He brought them to the border of the Land He promised them, they balked. Their disease wasn’t a virus but it was just as contagious. We call it sin. In their case, it manifested itself as fear, or a strong desire to doubt God’s ability to protect/rescue/provide for them. They chose, instead, to fight their own battles…or run away from them. As a result of this disease, God ‘quarantined’ them for 40 years or until that generation died. They wandered in the wilderness still under His care but distanced from every other nation on earth. By the time the next generation emerged from quarantine, they were ready to trust God with every single piece of their lives.
I know God didn’t cause COVID-19. It is just a byproduct of this old, fallen world we live in. But just because He didn’t create it doesn’t mean He can’t use it! God also did not create the fear that gripped the Hebrew’s hearts under Moses, but He used it to shape the hearts of the generation that followed them. That generation raised the likes of Joshua and Caleb and they raised kids like Boaz. They were super faithful people who knew how to trust the Lord and walk with Him. May we be so responsive.
COVID isn’t going to show us Jesus, but it can show us what He isn’t. He isn’t fearful. He isn’t distant. He isn’t so wrapped up online that He can’t show Himself in person. This virus is just a part of our lives now, but it cannot and must not control them. Jesus is still the only One authorized to hold that position. Will you let Him? What will the next generation say about the way we walked with Jesus in 2020?