How Is Sheltering in Place Going to Change Us?
We have completed four weeks of sheltering in place in Northern California. Four more weeks to go! I don’t think I’m prepared for thirty or more days of staying indoors and away from people. I fear sheltering in place for extended periods of time will bring out the worst in me.
How will this unprecedented crisis affect all of us? Are we going to emerge stronger or weaker?
Like Big Brother?
Being confined to the four walls of my house reminds me of the reality television show, Big Brother. A bunch of strangers (or celebrities) live together for three months in a house fitted with cameras and microphones. The rules keep them from going outside or have contact with anyone outside the house. Every week, viewers get a peek inside the happenings of the house. Houseguests vote to evict one member of the house each week.
What makes this show entertaining is that viewers get to watch the houseguests unravel under pressure in real time. We see how a “pressure cooker” situation brings out the best and worst in people and transforms them beyond recognition. The ultimate survivor of this test takes home the prize money.
There is no award to motivate us to get through the quarantine. We do not know what we will gain or lose, or who we will have become when we come out of our shelters.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into a unique, unfamiliar, and stressful place. We are homebound with children and spouses, separated from friends and family, surrounded by grief and loss, and within touching distance of a virus. Our homes and our minds can become the ideal environment for anger, frustration, impatience, and depression to take root and grow. If for any reason our situation was worse before the pandemic, sheltering in place could be like a fertilizer that exacerbates our stress.
The spread of the novel coronavirus and its cruel consequences are not from God. However, for reasons we cannot understand, He has allowed this pandemic to happen. A loving God does not inflict suffering on His children. But He often uses difficult circumstances to mature our faith.
God, Our Helper
We can go to God for help, guidance, counseling, strength, comfort, and so much more. When we pour ourselves out to Him, we can trust that He will come through for us. God is faithful to magnify our strengths and multiply our resources, using them to achieve His purpose for us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Suffering, when surrendered to God, refines us and makes us shine for Him.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:1-4 (NIV).
The next four weeks are not going to be easy, but I know when I depend on God, His daily manna will sustain me and His daily mercies will refresh me.
No matter how long we shelter in place or how severe the crisis, with God by our side, we can emerge as winners. God will transform us, not in to better version of ourselves, but into a better likeness of Himself.