What Did God Teach Me in Quarantine1
I will never forget Wednesday, March 11, 2020. I assumed that COVID-19 was going to affect society, but I never imagined what was coming. But that Wednesday, our country began aggressively shutting down. The next day, Governor Newsome issued his first executive order, and we all realized that life was about to change drastically. The next 11 weeks were probably the most draining season of ministry I have ever experienced. By Wednesday, May 27, when we published our plans for restarting services, I felt as worn down as I have in a long time. The world is far from being “back to normal,” but now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’d like to give thanks to the Lord for some important lessons/reminders that he taught me during quarantine.
- My family is too busy.
Under normal circumstances, my family is all over the place. We go to lots of fellowship events, church services, and homes. There are school events, meetings, etc. We love all of it, we really do. But during the first couple of weeks of quarantine, it was sure nice to take a break and spend more time together as a family. Our family devotional time improved immensely, and my children thrived. We’re all excited to go do things again and to see people, but I hope we don’t forget how healthy it was to spend more time together, and that we strike a better balance moving forward.
- God answers prayer.
Life Point’s theme for 2020 is “Devoted to Prayer,” and I’m thankful for how the Lord began growing my prayer life in January. Then he moved that process into overdrive during quarantine. I probably prayed more during quarantine than I have since college, and I hope my prayer life never recovers. I’m also abundantly thankful for how God answered many specific prayers during those 11 weeks. For example, I needed wisdom to make a lot of decisions, and I believe the Lord answered those prayers. I prayed that the Lord would provide for the church’s financial needs, and he answered far beyond what I could have imagined. I prayed that the Lord would keep our church unified despite widely divergent opinions, and he kept us together. I prayed that our state would treat churches fairly in its reopening plans, and they mostly have done so. And I prayed for a smooth process of restarting services, and they have gone incredibly well. Of course, many other people in our church have joined me in these prayers, and God answered all of us. I hope we never forget how we saw God answer prayer.
- Christ will keep his people and his church.
Until quarantine, I had never considered how many spiritual cues we give when we gather for worship. On a regular Sunday, I get to watch who’s there, their body language, the way they engage in worship, how they pay attention to the sermon, and how they interact with others. None of these cues offers a complete picture of someone’s spiritual condition (some people are great actors on Sunday), but the more you get to know someone, the more valuable these cues become. When I lost the opportunity to watch these cues week after week, it was easy to worry about people’s spiritual health. I know that some people struggled in isolation, but it’s encouraging to look back and see that Christ faithfully kept his people and his church. Satan will not prevail against the church (Matt 16:18) or against God’s children (Phil 1:6), during quarantine or any other time that is ahead.
- We need deeper conversation among believers.
Until quarantine, I had also never considered how much care takes place on Sundays. I suddenly realized how significant this care is, when we were faced with trying to stay connected while we weren’t gathering. Trying to compensate with phone calls, emails, etc., took a lot of time, but it was extremely rewarding. I realized that there were many people in our church that I greet every Sunday but with whom I rarely enjoy uninterrupted, deep conversation. I really enjoyed getting to know these people in a way that I didn’t know them before. I need to continue prioritizing this kind of conversation.
- Spirit-filled Christians drive worship.
Regathering has reaffirmed the biblical truth that Spirit-filled Christians energize true worship. No recording can replace the joy of worshipping with other Spirit-filled believers. Being back together has also reminded me of how much grace God provides through fellowship with Spirit-filled believers. We receive so much love, encouragement, and motivation by being together and even by listening to preaching together. Programs, technology, presentations, and song arrangements are not what ministers grace in the church; Spirit-filled believers do, and I am more thankful than ever for the ministry they have to me, to my family, and to one another.
I hope that I never have to endure something like quarantine again, but I also hope that I never forget what God did in my life. I’d encourage you to look back and remember what God did in your life and to make sure that you never forget God’s sanctifying work.