Social Distancing from the Comfort of Our Father’s Arms

4word community, we are grateful to come to you each week with content that is helpful as you navigate the successes and challenges of life. As we continue to stay apprised of the impact of COVID-19, we want you to know that we are praying for you as you navigate each day! We are grateful during this time to be an army of intercessors praying for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of our friends, our families, and for our world. If you have specific prayer requests, please send those to Irrayna as she consolidates prayer requests for our Boards and staff to pray over each week. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Emma Sharma, 4word Advisory Board Member, writes about how we can be using this time of social distancing to grow closer to our Father and others.

As COVID-19 has spread so have the calls—backed up by mandatory restrictions in many locations—for people to physically distance themselves from others. A vast number of us find ourselves working from home, venturing out only to pick up essential supplies, homeschooling children, only able to speak with, or see, our loved ones through panes of glass, over a video conferencing app or, worse, through an ICU window. Social media is flooded with stories of heroism and heartbreaking loss, words of encouragement, memes to raise our spirits, and inspiring thoughts that force us to ponder. Even in these truly extraordinary times, I’ve been struck by the sheer volume of these posts and videos. But maybe, on reflection, my surprise is misplaced. After all, we were CREATED FOR connection.

When God created Eve, it was an answer both to Adam’s need and the foundational truth from our Creator that ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). God declared that everything He made previously was “good” and here was something that was not (yet) good; not because it was faulty or deficient but because, without woman, man was alone – unfinished and incomplete.

Think about it: the very first human being on the earth needed to connect physically with another human being in order to be everything he was created to be. More importantly, Adam and Eve connected physically with their creator God as He walked alongside them in the Garden of Eden. Their disobedience to God separated us from Him, and humankind has been craving that lost connection ever since. 

Even the most introverted, quiet, sensitive souls crave (on some level) physical presence and interaction with others. As we are forced to self-isolate and quarantine ourselves from this COVID-19 virus in order to protect others, we are sacrificing a basic human need. This is one of the reasons society finds “social distancing” difficult and why we resist being separated from others. It was never meant to be this way. While we may not understand it, many of us connecting through social media (or any other way we can at this time) are also seeking to fulfill a void created back in Eden that is only exacerbated by this pandemic.

So, what can we do? Can this need for deep, meaningful physical connection ever be met? On this side of Heaven, not entirely. However, God has given us many ways to connect in a deeper way with Him and the great news is that none of them are off limits in quarantine or isolation:

Prayer & Meditation: With less time spent commuting or traveling as we work from home, there is an opportunity to spend more time in prayer and meditation. In the busyness of our lives, we often lack time just to sit still and really meditate on what He is saying to us. As Samuel found when he was child being woken by a voice in the night, it is in the quietest times that God speaks most clearly and directly to us. 

His Living Word: Another great way to connect with God is through the Bible. John 1:1 reminds us that “the Word was God.” As we read and meditate, we hear His voice in the words on the page and become more acquainted with Him. Commit to spending 30 minutes a day seeking Him in Scripture (there are so many excellent guides to assist) and see your relationship with Him dramatically change. 

Fasting: With the pressure on our grocery stores, many restaurant closures, and restrictions on socializing, what better time to practice one of the greatest spiritual disciplines? As we cut out the excess distractions from our lives temporarily, we can experience a more focused connection to our Heavenly father and a greater hunger for Him. A great resource on the principles behind, and benefits of, this discipline is Jentezen Franklin’s book, Fasting

Walking in creation: If you want to connect physically with the Creator, spend time in His creation. Here we are at the start of spring with the birdsong, blossoming trees and flowers, and signs of new life breaking through the ground all around us. With the gyms closed, we can stay active outside while simultaneously breathing in the warm spring air and experiencing the beauty of everything He has made. All around us are signs of hope and new beginnings which can bring encouragement in challenging times. 

Focus on our Blessings: Focusing on God’s goodness and cultivating a thankful spirit can, as many psychologists advise, be an effective way of building resilience in dark times: When others are grieving, it’s a reminder to pull our own loved ones closer and thank God for every day together; as many around us struggle with lost jobs and income, we can perhaps better appreciate all we have been given and maybe use some of it to serve others in their time of need. 

Finally, 1 Corinthians 16:23 (Message version) reminds us that “our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you.” Where better to find rest, comfort, and hope in times just like these than in His arms?