control

I write this post from a desk in my bedroom at home. I’m at home because our family is in covid quarantine this week. 22 months after the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted all our lives, our family has its first positive case. We were away for a few days celebrating our oldest son’s birthday when our youngest began with a sore throat, fever, and other cold-like symptoms. We came back to town, got him to a doctor, and our youngest tested positive for Covid-19. At this point, we are all presumed covid positive even though the symptoms shown by the rest of us have been relatively mild. Nevertheless, your prayers for our family this week would be appreciated.

This quarantine is an interruption into our lives. Our celebration trip was interrupted. Our regular schedule was interrupted. Our family interactions and things we can do for the next several days have been interrupted.

Inconvenient.

That’s what I’ve been thinking. I don’t have time for this. There are sermons to preach, classes to teach, people to interact with. Our Associate Pastor, Tad Craig, preached a great message on Sunday January 9, about doubt and the need for community. And now I’ll be away from in person interactions with my church community for at least this week. And that’s just me. Our boys won’t be in school, and my wife has had her work week affected this week as well. This covid quarantine is quite inconvenient.

But even so, it might just be a divinely appointed interruption. I hold a high view of God. He is absolutely sovereign. He is great. He is good and full of mercy, grace, and love in his interactions with people. So this interruption in our lives is not isolated from God’s control. Rather, it is a part of his handiwork.

The Bible testifies of divine interruptions in people’s lives.

  • God interrupted Noah’s life to have him build the ark.
  • God interrupted Abraham’s life to send him to the Promised Land.
  • God interrupted Job’s life by allowing him to suffer immensely to show Job that God alone is sovereign.
  • God interrupted David’s life of shepherding to become a warrior and then a king.
  • God interrupted the disciples’ lives by calling them to follow Jesus.
  • God interrupted Saul’s life on the road to Damascus by calling him to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
  • God interrupted Peter’s prayer life to send him to a Gentile family whom he would have presumed unclean unless God intervened.

I don’t share this list to somehow conflate my family’s covid interruption with this list of biblical interruptions. In the examples above God moved forward his divine purposes in the world. While we are not these characters in the Bible, and our stories are not their stories, interruptions in our daily life can be opportunities for God to intervene in our spiritual lives.

A proper view of God’s sovereign glory and greatness in the lives of his people requires that we not perceive interruptions as anything less than an opportunity to see God more clearly and follow Jesus more closely.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30

I like to quote Romans 8:28 above, and I believe that this interruption in the life of my family is something that God will work for good. But keep reading. The good that God wants to do in my life (in our lives) is to conform us into the image of his Son. God is working out the daily events of my life (our lives) to make us more like Jesus.

Here ares some things I’m praying during this time of quarantine. I would be honored if you’d join me in these prayers.

  • Father, would you show me whatever needs to be removed from my life to make me more like you? Would you help me to be quick to confess and repent of any sins that are an encumbrance to my spiritual life?
  • Father, would you grant our family grace and patience with one another during this quarantine? I know for a fact that I’m at times very impatient. This is an opportunity for God to bear the fruit of his Spirit in my life. Particularly, God is working to form “patience” and “self-control” in my life.
  • Father, would you help and heal our family and the many others who are more sick than we are? One of the things that has caused so much fear with Covid-19 is the apparent randomness of how it has affected people. We all know that people with underlying conditions have been affected significantly. Some of you reading this have been very sick and some have lost loved ones due to Covid-19. But others have been very sick with no apparent underlying connection. As we are praying for healing and health, we’re also praying for others connected to our congregation who are more sick than we are.
  • Father, would you help this time of family quarantine to be more than inconvenient, but to be a time of divinely appointed interruption for your work in our lives? Regardless of what our circumstances in life bring, God wants to make us more like him. This could be a prayer that we all pray about any of the circumstances we face.

May we learn to see interruptions as opportunities for Divine intervention.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I have felt more emotions in the last week than at any other time in my life. The speed with which the world has shifted regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is mind-boggling.

I have felt fear, frustration, and exhaustion. Almost all of the time during the past week, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Rarely is anyone prepared for life to change so fast for so many with innumerable ramifications. And this is only the first true week (of what will be many more) of response and recovery.

I don’t share this for your pity, because I know that I’m not alone. I share simply out of honesty. It does no good for any of us to put on a mask or pretend to be strong when we are struggling.

Situations like we are facing today remind us how truly inadequate we are. One thing that has been immensely helpful for me in the last week or so has been my journal. I can write my prayers and thoughts before God and know that he hears.

Let me share with you 5 personal responses I wrote down in my journal the other day. They’ve helped me, and I hope they might help you process what we’re going through.

  1. Prioritize my information sources. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been reading and watching the news all the time trying to figure out what’s changing next. If we’re not careful though, our attentiveness to the news will lead to discouragement or worse. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the news either. Rather, make sure that you prioritize the timeless over the temporal. Read God’s Word. Let the assurances and promises and hope of the Bible give you calmness and confidence.
  2. Embrace my lifestyle changes as opportunities. There are no shortages of challenges, frustrations, and discouragements during these unprecedented days. There is much we cannot do, and there are places we cannot go. Instead of looking at all the negatives, embrace the changes as opportunities. We have the opportunity to pause, rest, pray, listen, and slow down. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a game together. Take a walk or a hike. Have long conversations. Read a book. Spend time with God. These moments of pause in the swirl of chaos are a blessing to embrace as much as they are a difficulty to manage.
  3. Accept that I cannot change reality. Read the next statement out loud, “I am not in control.” If the last week does nothing else, it should scream to us that we are not in control. Our busyness, bustling, and constant activity are often attempts at trying to control everything in our lives. We solve this and fix that and put out this fire. Well, this thing we are dealing with his bigger than me, than you, and yes, even bigger than all of us. We should accept our dose of humility and recognize that we are not in control. Only God is in control. To him we must turn.
  4. Pursue the presence of God. Our limitations drive us to One who is unlimited. More than ever before in my life, I realize that I need God. In the story where Jesus walked on water (John 6; Matthew 14), the disciples were rowing hard in the storm only to be frightened at the sight of Jesus walking on the water. Notice this, the disciples were in the storm watching Jesus walk on water because that’s where Jesus had sent them. They were obedient, and they were still afraid. Notice what happened next, “Jesus came to them.” Jesus will be with you in your fears. He will be with you today. Seek him. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). If we’re going to take seriously the message to wash our hands, we should take serious the reminder to draw near to God. You need him. Pursue him, and he will find you.
  5. Look ahead to the real future. At least for me, part of my worries come from wondering what will happen after we get through this wave. What’s on the other side? What will the socioeconomic impact be? How many will get sick? Will anyone I know and serve become a fatality? Dreading the future is a dangerous worry. But we need to look past COVID-19, past the response, past flattening the curve, past social distancing, past the socioeconomic consequences, past all these things. We need to look to the eternal future. As followers of Jesus, looking to eternity will help us overcome fear in the present. It will also remind us the desperate importance to spread the good news of Jesus to sinners who need repentance. May God help us point people to eternity.

“So we do not lose heart,” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16. God is with us through it all. I would love to read your feedback at how God is strengthening you during these days. Would you share how God is encouraging you with me? You can leave a comment below. Or you can comment on the social media platform that led you to this post.