Solitude to Re-emerge
How are you spending your time in self-quarantine? For well over a month now, we have had to isolate ourselves away from others in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. It started out fun – no place to be and no time constraints. We suddenly had time for our families and homeschooling and for napping, cooking, reading, and watching movies. But by Day Five, cabin fever set in. The kids were so over doing worksheets and being homeschooled. We weren’t tired anymore, and there weren’t enough ingredients in our pantries to put together a nice meal. We had read our books, and we were all caught up on the latest Netflix movies and TV series. All the family board games had been played – multiple times. This “solitude thing” (even among family) can leave us feeling bored, lonely and depressed. But it doesn’t have to. This time of isolation can be a time of self-reflection, a time of growth and a time to grow closer to Christ.
During Jesus’ 33 years on Earth, He was busy doing the will of the Father: performing miracles, saving souls and teaching others about God’s love. Yet, there were many times throughout His time on Earth where he chose solitude over people. Solitude is defined as “a state of seclusion or isolation. A lack of contact with people.” Let’s look at a few examples of Jesus’ times of solitude:
Here, God orchestrated Jesus’ birth in less-than-ideal surroundings: a stable, no less with just His parents and a few animals present. There were no indoor accommodations for His birth. There were no midwives or doctors on hand or family members to help soothe Mary as she labored. Jesus was born and placed in a manger – a feeding trough. Sure visitors came later to marvel at the Son of God, but His birth occurred in isolation and seclusion. Perhaps, it was God’s way of illustrating His sovereignty to Mary and Joseph. Everything Jesus needed outside of the womb was there in that stable. What are you birthing during this time of solitude? What ideas or gifts has God given you that you could be using right now? Everything you need to fulfill your calling is right there within you. It is right there in your surroundings. Isolation can lead to innovation.
40 Days of Fasting and Prayer
Luke 4:1-13 details how Jesus was led to the desert to fast and pray. During that time, Satan came to tempt Him. Jesus responded to each of Satan’s attacks and temptation with the Word of God. This is precisely what we should do when the enemy comes at us with his attacks. In order to respond with the Word, we have to know God’s Word. What better time than right now, under quarantine, than to study the Bible and familiarize ourselves with scripture? Let’s equip ourselves for the enemy’s ploys by countering his attacks with God’s Word. Jesus tells us in Mark 9:29 that some spirits and tricks of the enemy can only come out or be stopped by prayer and fasting. Our fast during this time of solitude doesn’t just have to be from food. We can give up posting and checking our social media accounts or watching TV. Watch God speak to us, empower us and strengthen us to do battle against the enemy if we spend this time studying His Word, praying and fasting.
When Jesus learned that John the Baptist had been killed, he “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13). He wanted to be alone to grieve the loss. His grieving in solitude was short-lived as crowds followed Him, and He resumed his missionary work. The point here, however, is that we can take time out to grieve. There are more than 300 people nationwide who have succumbed to the coronavirus. Those were precious lives lost. We can express our grief by praying for their families to feel God’s comfort and love during this heartbreaking time. We can empathize with those less fortunate by engaging in acts of kindness (making cards for those in nursing homes, donating food to food banks, or donating masks or food to medical staff as they work tirelessly to tend to coronavirus patients).
Before going to the Cross
The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention how Jesus withdrew from His disciplines in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. His prayer was this, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He didn’t want to face the agony and torment that awaited Him. He was honest and vulnerable in His prayer. His flesh didn’t want to fulfill the mission, so He prayed that not His will be done but the Father’s will be done in this matter. We cannot begin to compare what Christ went through on Mount Calvary to the effects of the coronavirus. Yet, none of us want to be in the midst of this pandemic. None of us want to face the potential of unemployment, illness, cancelled graduations and once-in-a-lifetime events. But what is God’s will for us during this crisis? Let’s seek Him and find out.
In following Jesus’ examples, in times of solitude, we can pray, fast, study His Word and seek His will for our lives. Rest and renewal in Christ can leave us ready to re-emerge into the world strengthened, recharged and ready to face the enemy’s attacks. Let’s spend this time of solitude with Jesus.
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