Growing up, Aladdin was my favorite movie. I wanted to be Princess Jasmine, and “A Whole New World” was one of my favorite songs. Never did I imagine that I’d one day title a blogpost with the name of that song to talk about a worldwide quarantine. The world will be different after this. The world is different even now.
Last night, I asked God to give me a passage to read. After just waiting on Him and meditating on Him in complete stillness and quiet, I tried to decipher His voice and really felt like He’d told me to land on Ezekiel 5. I read the first several verses and forgot about it.
This morning, I read the entire chapter. Look at how the chapter ends:
“Epidemic disease, unrestrained murder, death—and I will have sent it! I, God, have spoken” (Ezek. 5:17, MSG).
I don’t think it’s ironic that God told me to go there. Epidemic disease. We know God is sovereign, so why does He allow diseases like COVID-19? It’s a very intense chapter. The chapter is titled, “A Jealous God, Not to Be Trifled With.”
It’s a chapter about God becoming jealous because the people had all these idols before Him. If you think of idols as just being carved images like a golden calf statue, you’re not understanding the full picture. Today, idols more commonly manifest in money, fame, careers, notoriety, fancy cars and mansions.
Could it be that God has put His foot down and said, “Enough. Enough of putting your busy life ahead of spending time with Me. Enough of putting your careers before family. Enough of deliberately going against My commands in the Bible that are not meant to limit you, but to give you the best life possible.”
Perhaps this time is God’s mercy giving us another chance to get our priorities straight. Are there talents He’s given you that you’ve neglected? When was the last time you spoke with your immediate family? When was the last time you’ve just sat still in His presence, waiting to hear His whispers to you?
In no way am I saying God is necessarily punishing us, because we can’t know for sure why this all happened. All we know is we live in a sinful world and it’s horrible that so many people are dying, and healthcare workers are risking their lives every day to be on the frontlines. That’s incredible and I can’t imagine what that’s like. This is a traumatic experience, and some people are feeling it more than others.
What I do know is we have hope. We know in the future Jesus is coming back and this world will pass away, every tear will be wiped away, and evil will be no more. We can trust God for peace and strength during the trials. But we also know hardships and suffering are inevitable on this earth.
Regardless of why the whole world is experiencing this plague, it’s no doubt also causing mental illness to rise. When we don’t respond properly to a pandemic, such as by running to God, family and friends for the encouragement me need, it’s easy to become depressed from loneliness. How will you choose to respond? (Note: I’m not saying depression is always caused by circumstances. I actually did an entire mental health podcast series here, where I discuss the importance of counseling and even medication in extreme scenarios.)
I know for me, this quarantine has prompted me to spend more time with my immediate family than I ever have before. I’ve been singing while my mom plays piano. I’ve been playing cards with my sisters. I’ve been writing handwritten cards to my best friends to remind them how much they mean to me. This is my new normal. And though I was upset about having to adjust as recently as yesterday, I’m becoming more grateful today.
Sure, I don’t want this social distancing thing to last long. I don’t want to wear a face mask in public like I have to do now. I miss my boyfriend and my other best friends, seeing them face to face over dinner or a cup of coffee. But I’m cherishing the lessons this unique time is teaching me, and doing my best to focus on those more than what I miss.
I’m grateful for technology like Zoom where I can still participate in virtual Bible study. I’m grateful for YouTube where people are sharing about their enriching experiences at home, such as this father and daughter who made a channel to share their music during quarantine.
What are you grateful for today?