Like most of you, I initially did not consider this time of isolation as a “gift.” The change in our lives has been sudden and unexpected, and while change is good, this doesn’t feel good. It has been hard. The threat of the virus is real, and some have lost loved ones they can’t even mourn in person. Many have lost their jobs. Teachers have been thrown into a new world of attempting to teach online while managing their own families. Many educators are exhausted and worry about the welfare of their students, knowing they can only support them from the other side of a screen. In many rural areas, children are on their own. Fear and anxiety seem to be at an all-time high for this generation. How in the world could there be “gifts” at a time like this?
I must admit this pandemic caught my family off guard. One day we were going about our busy lives, and the next day we found out that in one week we would be temporarily laid off. While “temporary” sounds comforting, the uncertainty of what that actually means is a bit unsettling. All of a sudden our security blanket was pulled out from under us, and there was nothing we could do and no one we could blame.
However, over the past few weeks I have come to believe that this time of quarantine has been full of blessings—blessings that could not have been experienced otherwise. Just this week I was listening to a sermon by Tony Evans entitled, “Loving Christ.” His words hit home. “Pain in your life could be one of the greatest blessings you experience if it makes you more dependent on God than you have ever been before.” I knew this was meant for me. It caused me to reflect back on painful times in my life. Each time I chose to lean on God, He was faithful. This time was no different.
One obvious gift of quarantine for those of us in education is the elevated respect of educators. Parents who have to stay home and teach their children are finding out very quickly the task faced by teachers each and every day. Educators around the country are being hailed for their hard work and commitment to children. Of course, we have all known this for a long time, but it is nice that others are giving teachers the recognition they have so long deserved.
Most gifts, I would venture to say, are personal in nature. As I mentioned in a previous blog (This Is Personal), our God is personal. He cares about each of us individually, and His purposes for our lives are always best. Therefore, I am quite certain He is giving each of us our own personal gifts during quarantine. I do believe, however, there are some gifts that are universal in nature. If Jesus is your Savior, these gifts are for you.
The gift of dependence. I echo Tony Evan’s sentiment. In this self-sufficient world, it has taken something like this pandemic to remind all of us that we are not capable of fixing everything on our own. When everything is stripped away, there is only one true anchor and source we can rely on. I am learning to trust God’s perfect plan one day at a time, and I truly mean that—one day at a time!
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
The gift of stillness. Most of us know Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God. When reading this verse in isolation, we might think it is asking us to be quiet and contemplate who God is. While this is an important practice, there is more to the verse than this. Psalm 46 was written during the reign of Jehoshaphat. The enemies of Moab, Ammon, and Edom had come up against Israel. God arose as their strength and intervened with supernatural intervention in a time of trouble (2 Chronicles 20:1-30).
In this passage “Be still” more resembles telling a class of noisy students, “Quiet! Stop talking, stop doing, and listen to me!” God was needing to get their attention and remind them to acknowledge who He was. He and He alone is God, and He would fight their battles for them. The people did not have to worry. God was with them.
Isn’t this such a wonderful gift? We can let go of our worry and strife.We can be still and KNOW that He is God.
The gift of peace. Jesus spoke these words of comfort.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
In times of uncertainty, fear and doubt creep in. Make no mistake—this is the enemy. Satan wants you to question the words of Jesus. Don’t do it. Jesus promised He would never leave or forsake us. He promises peace when we trust in Him. You can believe this. He is God, and He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). Rest in these words.
I can give personal testimony regarding this gift of peace. The moment we were faced with the news that changed our circumstances, we fervently prayed. I am not even sure now what we prayed, but I am here to affirm that both my husband and I have experienced supernatural peace. It doesn’t make sense. We should have high levels of anxiety, but we simply do not. The only explanation is the peace that surpasses all understanding is truly guarding our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).
I pray that you too are experiencing the many gifts of quarantine. These gifts will sustain us during this time and ultimately make us more like Jesus, which is the best gift of all!