The whole world seemed to screech to a halt as news of the severity of the coronavirus spread. Minor changes to life seemed to be expected such as increased protocol for staying home when sick or increased restrictions in travel. However, no one anticipated the complete shutdown the world was about to experience.
Throughout the months of January and February, as news of coronavirus spread, it still sounded distant here in the United States. The United States is a safe place, and there was no reason to believe that anything on the home front could be altered, right?
Within 24 hours, all church services had been suspended, and schools around the nation switched to online instruction. Stores adopted different hours, restaurants were restricted to drive-thru only and everyone was instructed to stay at home unless necessary. With the new adoption of the 6-feet apart rule, coupled with the closing of virtually all places of socialization, isolation and sadness became a common feeling for many. The worst part is that as worry increased, there was no definitive end date to it all.
Many people have recently had to deal with losing things that matter to them personally. Eagerly anticipated events that many were thinking about for years were brushed aside with a wave of a hand. You might be in that very same position, feeling personally robbed after seeing schools, graduations, proms, camps and other anticipated social events canceled.
While both church and school were replaced with an online counterpart that gave similar instruction and knowledge, the social element of those events was missing. The feelings of loss, sadness and helplessness are understandable and felt by many. This sparked a sudden aspiration to find new ways to stay connected to what was important.
So how do we stay connected to friends, family and God during these strange times? Although we are used to certain basic means of connecting in person, there are numerous other ways for us to strengthen our relationships with God and His people!
A good verse to look to during this difficult time is 1 John 4:7: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” A great way to show God your love for Him is by demonstrating love and kindness to His people. In a time when we are physically distant from friends and family, it is crucial and meaningful that we stay close to God’s children.
Connecting with God
So how do we do that? First, we start by staying connected to God. Here are a few simple points that can help you do that:
1. Set goals and write them down
You are far more likely to complete a goal if you write it down, so make sure to write down your plans and put them in a place where you can be reminded of them every day. A constant reminder (such as a reminder to pray and study your Bible) can really help you strengthen your relationship with God.
2. Begin a prayer journal
A prayer journal is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas when talking to God. It can also be a great way to look back at your prayers to see how God has helped you in the past.
3. Make a plan to read your Bible
Creating a schedule for reading God’s Word can be incredibly encouraging in a time when we can’t physically be together at church! You can also try coordinating with friends to keep each other dedicated to completing your plan.
Reaching out to friends and family
It’s important to stay connected to God, but it’s also very important to stay connected with your friends and family. Here are a few simple ways to keep in touch:
1. Write a letter
Letters are a memorable way to reach out to others. Most people do not receive many handwritten letters anymore, so receiving one is usually a pleasant surprise!
2. Schedule a group video chat
While lots of people video chat with one or two people, have you ever tried to video chat with a large group of people? This can really help recreate the experience of standing in a circle at church or school and talking with your friends.
3. Reach out to people from your congregation
A simple phone call can really mean a lot to someone, and it’s a simple gesture that anyone is capable of doing! Even if you can’t physically be there for someone, reaching out to them by phone can be a great way to show them you care.
If this trial has taught us anything, it’s that life’s circumstances can change in an instant. Not just for each of us individually, but for the whole world. By strengthening our relationships with God, friends and family, we are practicing the godly quality of love that John wrote about. In addition, staying connected with God and His spiritual family can help you through whatever trials may come!