It Can Be Done Isolation may lead to God revealing Himself in deep new ways.

The world is being turned upside down by The Covid-19 virus. People wear masks and panic buy toilet paper; we’ve got our small stash—a 12 pack. Social distancing, isolation and lockdowns are in place. I can’t speak to the medical or rational reasons for toilet paper hoarding, but I can speak to isolation and lockdowns and the incredible upside that is possible.

I spent 2 years in prison in China, the first 6 months in isolation. Both were incredibly difficult; that’s an understatement, but God walked with me and I saw God at work in the middle of the pain and suffering.

We go on retreats or self-retreats to get away and refuel or refocus. Covid 19 is devastating but besides a disruption and a pause to normal life, maybe it’s Jesus saying: Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest (Mark 6:31). Pause, pray, read and seek to be transformed by this unprecedented Sabbath season.

Maybe, just maybe through this God is saying we need to re-evaluate what’s important—what are the real priorities in our lives.

No Netflix, no FB, no Instagram, no streaming church services...

Six months in isolation and 19 months in prison with a shifting set of 14 in a cramped cell can be done. It was done—but only as I called to God. God answered like he says in Isaiah 43:2–3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…” God says it can be done. He is the Lord our God so it can be done.

For 775 days, I had no social media or anything electronic except 30 minutes a day of state-run news, sometimes called propaganda, that I had to watch. It can be done. No Netflix, no FB, no Instagram, no streaming church services—just nothing!

When facing mandatory social distancing that can cause incredible suffering, I can tell you positively—it can be done, and it’s also a choice. I had my Bible and books brought by consular officials during our closely monitored 30 minute per month visits. Each brief controlled visit was the social highlight of my month. Maybe Amazon or those delivering meals will be your new social highlight. Give those delivery people, a socially distant high five! My food was also delivered to my cell door 3 times a day—except the 28.4% of the time it wasn’t.

I learned in suffering that what God promises applies in every circumstance. God knew where I was—knew the difficulty, hardship and pain and saw me through—He kept His promises. He is not caught unaware by prison, Covid-19, or anything else that upends life as we planned it. He’s fully aware. He knows. It can be done.

I had time and God knew.

Maybe you face self-isolation or quarantine or financial difficulties. You might have to work from home and avoid large gatherings—including church services. My life, as I knew it, was put on hold but God revealed Himself to me in deep new ways. I don’t want to repeat those 2 years, 1 month, 11 days and a few hours, but I cherish those times alone with God, my Bible and a few books, oh and that constantly changing cast of cell characters who needed to know God’s love. They were incredibly rich times. It really can be done.

God has allowed this time—will you use it to know Jesus more? Dive into the Bible, pick up a new book or reread an old one that will challenge your soul to draw closer to God. In prison the Bible and reading other books sustained me. Every month I exchanged my handful of books for new ones the embassy brought, reading many of them 2 or 3 times. I had time and God knew. I couldn’t go anywhere—never left my cell. It can be done.

Why not go online, I could not, and order a book for a friend or someone you haven’t seen for a while; Amazon still delivers. Share what God has given you with others. In prison I shared my food with those who didn’t have money to purchase some; yes in prison you have to buy your food, your toothbrush and almost everything else... It can be done—with God.

A few days ago, as we talked to friends from Ontario our doorbell rang. We’re in a new place so didn’t expect anyone to be coming to the door—especially with Covid-19 seemly lurking around every corner. It was a pizza delivery guy (who stayed socially distant to deliver)—I quickly said you have the wrong address—our friends then yelled out, no it’s for you. What an amazing blessing. So, we kind of ate together. It can be done.

God, who always gets the last word, says: “So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

It can be done.

PS.


Series: COVID-19

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