1 Thessalonians 5:13b-18
“Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here now in week five of quarantine, I have contracted a definite case of “Quarantine Blahs”, and I think I may have reached my “done” point. You may be there too, if you didn’t already arrive here many days or weeks ago. You may be done with cooking every night, done with video and other methods of conferencing, done wiping down your groceries, done singing while you wash your hands, done being the teacher for your children (or being taught by your parent), done being isolated from the people you love (except maybe those living there with you-though you may be done with them in a whole different way), and done not being able to fully share life moments with others (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, celebration parties, etc.). You may also miss eating out-inside while someone serves you, watching or attending sporting events, going to concerts, going to the movies, getting a haircut, or traveling…for anything. Sigh.
Nearly every week I soldier on Sunday-Thursday, but come Friday, I just can’t seem to take it anymore, and I have a mini-meltdown. Yesterday I realized that what we are going through in quarantine is actually culture shock. Culture shock usually occurs when you travel to some place new, often a foreign country where you don’t speak the language very well and the culture and customs are unfamiliar. After some time there, you may become irritated, angry, frustrated and tired of trying to understand your new normal. But you can experience culture shock right here at home. I have experienced culture shock just upgrading to new technology; it’s exciting and fun at first, but then I get really frustrated that it doesn’t work like the old one did.
Quarantine is its own kind of culture shock. You are still in the environment that is familiar to you, yet the rules have changed. And isolation at home is only fun to a point. Though we can occupy ourselves with many things at home to pass the time and even enjoy it, ultimately, we get to this place of really missing what was familiar, easy, and fun.
There is good news in all of this, though. First, Quarantine WILL NOT last forever. It just won’t. We are going to get beyond this. Yes, it is extremely frustrating not having a date we can countdown to, but we will just have to breathe and be patient. Eventually we will be able to come back together again.
Second, it is OK to feel what you feel. If you are angry, be angry. If you are sad, be sad. If you are happy, be happy. Isolation and sheltering are emotionally hard. So be gentle with yourself and your loved ones. Try not to take it out on each other but support one another instead. If you need to cry, do so. If you need to yell and burn off your frustrations, then do that. Go find a pillow and yell into it for a bit. Grab a pool noodle from your garage and beat up your bed. [Warning: you might let someone in your home know what you are doing so that your family doesn’t think you’ve gone over the edge.] Watch a funny movie or TV show and laugh. If you know people who are quarantined alone, call them and send them cards; show them love and remind them they are not alone. But for all of those hard and painful feelings, try not to stay there too long. Work through why you feel as you do and remind yourself about the good things
that are happening now too. Pray; God lifts up the downtrodden. Jesus tells us “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Take comfort in the Lord.
Third, practice living into Scripture. Our very first Scripture memory verse is so appropriate right now. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Granted, I want to chuck those verses out the window right now, but if it isn’t true now, then when, dear friends, is it true? So much of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament he wrote in jail, and it is possible he wrote some of Thessalonians in jail also. Talk about isolation and quarantine! If with that background Paul can teach us to have joy, pray, and be thankful, then we should at least give it a try. It might surprise you how it could change your attitude. Yesterday this verse showed up in my afternoon devotions and I nearly laughed out loud. Yep, I heard God speaking loud and clear. I hope you will too.
So if you are done with isolation, know you are in good company; we feel it too. And we really are all in this together. You don’t have to pretend like this is the best time of your life. It’s ok to be honest and it’s ok to be frustrated. But as the Body of Christ, don’t forget that we have a big weapon in our tool box-God Himself. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are Lord over all the earth and mighty to save; help us! Help us to find peace in these difficult and uncertain times. Help those who are serving so bravely to heal the sick and the suffering. Help us to not forget it is you who works within us and among us. We humbly ask that you would bring an end to this virus and heal your world. Lift up our hearts, O God. We look to you. Amen.
Keep the faith,