Social distancing is HARD!
I’m that person that gets regular texts from friends asking if I’m okay (*moan) and if there is anything they can do to help (nooooo- all I want is the pandemic to be oooovvvverrrr).
You see, my friends know certain things about me: 1) my anxiety disorder was flaring up before COVID-19, 2) being around other people fills me with energy, and 3) teaching my particular four children at home is my actual nightmare. The people in my life can do the math- I AM NOT OKAY!
Something has been asked of all of us during this pandemic. We’ve been asked to sacrifice our comfort, our routines, our social contact for the sake of something better. We have been asked to do things that we don’t have the proper support to do well (I’m looking at you, learning from home). And I don’t know about you, but sometimes, it feels like it is killing me.
Which reminds me of what Timothy Keller said in his book Counterfeit Gods: “Sometimes God seems to be killing us when He’s actually saving us.” He had discussed how God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God had given him all he’d ever wanted when Isaac was born- and that was a danger to Abraham as it was a temptation to love Isaac more than God. That if left unchecked, his love for Isaac would become an idol for him. God, in His infinite knowledge and mercy, asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. To put this love on the altar before God. Something that seems harsh and cruel from our eyes. We see Abraham’s agony as he prepares for this sacrifice, day after day, not knowing when God would reveal the right mountain for sacrifice. As a parent, it’s unthinkable that God would wait until Isaac was bound and the knife was raised in Abraham’s hand before divine intervention saved them both. And God’s response when Abraham obeyed? “Now I know that you fear God” (Gen. 22:12). God and Abraham and Isaac now knew that Abraham’s first love, his primary love, was God and not Isaac. God was saving Abraham during those agonizing days of preparing for the sacrifice. He knew that struggle- do I love God more than the gifts He gives me- was what Abraham needed to be saved from the destruction that would befall him if he let his love for his son overcome His love for God.
I’ve seen how God has done this in my own life. Times of struggle and agony that resulted in trusting and loving Him more. I’ve seen Him strip other things away from me during my struggle with mental illness- my production, my charisma, my identity in anything other than Him- in order to make me more like Him. To make lessons I learned in my head, like His unconditional love for me that doesn’t rely on me pleasing Him, really get down to my heart. That my identity doesn’t lie in anything besides Who He is in me. Would I be eager to go back to those dark days? NO! Yet I can see His hand in them. So I trust His hand in these difficult times.
So, like Abraham, I go up this new mountain of sacrifice. It isn’t easy. Much of the time, I’m not okay. Being stripped of social connection and thrown into a situation where I don’t have all the tools I need to be successful triggers my mental illness something harsh! And the only thing that really gets me through it (because feeling righteous for my actions doesn’t lessen the struggle significantly) is the knowledge of exactly Who God is. He is righteous and loving. He knows what is best for me and how to achieve it. He knew what He was doing when He put the prayer in my heart for 2020, “Lord, help me fear You more.” And so like Abraham, I hold on to the truth that God will provide the lamb (Gen 22:8). That He who did not spare His own son will graciously give me exactly what I need, because He is for me (Rom 8:31-32).
Holding on to His character- that’s what’s going to get me through. And my hope and prayer is that after all is said and done, I’ll know in my soul that all I have is Christ. That He is my first love- over comfort, over success, over all the other loves that draw me. That I’ll be able to stand before Him as He says, “Now I know that you fear the Lord.”