God was merciful in helping me survive and even thrive during the first few weeks of the mandated “stay at home” because of the pandemic. But then I hit a wall. We’re not in a sprint anymore but a marathon.
It’s great to connect with people on the computer or phone, but it’s just not the same as physically hanging out for hours with close friends, especially since I’m an extrovert. I can experience meaningful spiritual formation, stay active in church ministry, connect with friends through technology, walk my neighborhood daily, and still have countless hours left each day. It’s hard not to just start scrolling on social media or watching TV.
This seems so insignificant compared to the bigger tragedies around us. I grieve with friends who have lost loved ones and for those dying alone with COVID-19. I grieve to see the effects of racism and poverty among Asian American, Black, Latino, and Native people, many who are suffering and dying in disproportionate numbers. I grieve for the abused, mentally ill, and those who have lost jobs.
God’s invites us to not only join him in the suffering around us; he is also inviting us to explore our own personal disappointments and losses on a deeper level—decluttering our souls and spirits, not just our rooms. This difficult time can be an opportunity to cultivate newness.
As friends have prayed during this season, they’ve received pictures of a cocoon and greenhouse—something that’s really resonated with me. God’s showing me that this is a rare opportunity to allow him to cleanse us deeply so that he can fill us with more of his presence.
As I’ve faced my deeper loneliness, God has revealed more areas of my life that he wants to heal. He showed me that I depend too much on my outer world, including people, to fill me and bring me joy. And he led me to ask some hard questions of myself, questions I also invite you to ask:
What’s happening to you as this pandemic’s effects have stretched on much longer than you imagined? What happens when you decide not to numb your deeper feelings with entertainment, social media, food or other substances, social interaction, and work?
What new joy does the Lord want to give you when you can’t hang with close friends? How is he wanting to remake you?
How is he making Scripture come alive in your life? Psalm 46:10 and Isaiah 55:8 have been especially life-giving for me. And what about new ways to worship? Are there books that you have neglected that would be good for your soul?
Is God inviting you to change the physical spaces of your life so that he can be more present?
Will you pray for and seek purposeful relationships with your neighbors? Will people be transformed by God because of you?
Will you use this season wisely and be different when it’s over?
As you reflect on these questions, be encouraged by Isaiah 43:19: “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Thank you, Lord, that you want to fill us in deeper ways and expand what it means to know you. Thank you that by your Spirit you will show us new pathways and open doors. Thank you that you are bringing deeper healing and cleansing in our lives and also exposing dark areas that you want to fill with light!
Brenda has spent over 44 years leading, discipling, and developing InterVarsity students and staff in San Francisco and Hawai`i. You can support her ministry at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#17.
I don’t know what you are facing, but God does. He wants to meet you in the reality of the finished work of Jesus Christ, the gospel—our hope. Let him meet you there and, if necessary, seek out others and let them help you as well.