How can we get through this lockdown and not be overcome by loneliness? Is it possible to actually thrive in lockdown despite all the negative aspects? This is what I was wondering when my government announced a new lockdown and tighter social distancing rules.
Since this crisis has been going on for that long, I can feel a sense of loneliness and sometimes even hopelessness (when is this going to end?) looming.
Get through this lockdown with God’s help
The Bible says that when we go through trials – if we endure and persevere – our character is being refined and strengthened (see Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9).
I don’t know why God allows this virus to continue causing suffering and so much division around the world – even within the Church. I do know though, that for God’s children, there is not one thing in this world, that is ever in vain (Romans 8:28). God can create something beautiful and purposeful even out of this crisis. There is one catch though.
This new lockdown will either crush me, or it will strengthen me. The outcome depends on how I deal with it.
So I have put together some points of actions to help me to get through this lockdown in a God-trusting, healthy way. I don’t claim these are God’s instructions, and I am not a medical or mental health expert, but maybe in sharing this, it will encourage and help you also.
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1. Go deeper with God
I don’t believe that we can just shut ourselves in and sit this crisis out. This is not a nightmare from which we will suddenly wake up and just move on like yesterday. We don’t know if “after the crisis” everything will be as “before the crisis”. We might live in a totally new reality that we will need to be able to handle well.
I have determined in my heart to do everything I can, to come out of this crisis stronger than before. Here’re my points of action to go deeper with God and get stronger spiritually:
1.1 Get to know God more intimately
After this crisis, I want to be able to say, that my relationship with God got closer and more intimate. Only if I know with full conviction, that he is by my side, and if I truly know him, I can be sure, that whatever comes my way, I will be able to face it.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1, NKJV)
Psalm 91 describes the protection and safety that a believer enjoys who has an intimate relation with God. And this is exactly what we should go after!
1.2 Read the Word
There is so much confusion in the world right now. So many different opinions, so many “truths” – how can we know what or whom to believe? God’s Word is eternal (1 Peter 1:25). God’s Word is unshakeable (Matthew 7:24). It is never changing (Isaiah 40:8). God’s word is powerful to accomplish what it has been sent out to do (Isaiah 55:10-11). His Word is living and active and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). It is a light unto our path in this world of confusion (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word is our daily bread that sustains us in this wilderness season (Matthew 4:4).
Instead of reading bad news and conflicting reports and opening us up to fear and confusion, let’s spend more time reading the Word! If there was ever a time to build a solid foundation – by digging deep into the word of God, it is now. My plan is to just read chapter by chapter, allow the word to speak to me, feed on it and meditate on it.
Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8, NKJV)
What healthier thing is there to mediate on than the Word of God?
1.3 Spend more time in prayer
By now, we all know that this world needs our prayer! And we need it also!
Let’s pray for divine protection. For God’s direction in our personal life. For the restauration of relationships and the salvation of unsaved family and friends.
Let’s pray for our government to do wise decisions and for godly counsel in the places of power. Pray for God to build his kingdom and for his will to be done on earth.
Pray for the Church to awake from her slumber and step into her calling of being witnesses of Christ. And, let’s pray for a spirit of repentance of wrong priorities in the Body of Christ, where we pursued our own agenda and not prioritised what Jesus has called us to do.
Even beyond this lockdown, let’s continue to pray and not give up until we have received an answer.
1.4 Allow God to refine and purify you
If there is something in our life that is not pleasing to God, let’s pray that he will use this season to convict and refine us. We have to make myself available to him. Spend time with him. Read his word, mediate, and wait for his voice.
1.5 Have Communion regularly
A few years back I started taking communion occasionally. I was not sure if it was right to do it by myself as I have always had it in a church/fellowship setting. But learning more about communion over the years, and understanding about the great promise Jesus gave to this regard, I don’t want to miss it.
In John chapter 6, Jesus encourages us to feed on him – because then, we will abide in him:
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (John 6:56-57, ESV)
When we take communion, we remind ourselves, that we can do nothing without Jesus – we are totally dependent on him. That Jesus lives inside of us and that our desire is to be changed into his image.
2. Build up your faith
2.1 Revisit God’s promises to you
Over the past years, I have received so many words from the Lord. They are all encouraging, inspiring and challenging. I think, it is time to revisit them. So, my plan is to put them all together, to access them easily and to meditate and pray over them more regularly.
Have you any words from the Lord, a Bible verse maybe, or a prophetic word someone spoke over your life? Revisit them, mediate and pray over them and let the Holy Spirit minister to your spirit. Write them into your diary, or put them up on your wall or your bathroom mirror, so they are “always before” you.
If God has spoken to you through these words once – let him continue to speak through them! It will strengthen your faith.
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2.2 Revisit inspiring sermons
There are also a dozen or so sermons that inspired me tremendously over the years. When I heard the preacher speak, I soaked up every word like a dry sponge. Sometimes, I would listen to them over and over again, but I haven’t for a while.
We sometimes get overfed with teaching: Every Sunday a new sermon (or more than one). Then there’re so many great podcasts. The many books we’re reading. And the list goes on. It is hard to keep up with all that we hear and what God seems to be speaking to us.
We hardly ever take time to digest what God has already told us. So, this is a good opportunity to slow down and like Isaac reopen the wells of old (Genesis 26:18).
3. Be a friend to others & have your friends rally around you
Lockdown and social distancing is in particular hard for everyone living alone. It’s easy to get sucked into this feeling of loneliness. If you, like me, are going through this season alone, and feel anxious, sad or overwhelmed, then please know that you are not the only one! I think most of us who are alone struggle with loneliness. And in the Western culture, where we don’t know the concept of extended families, there are plenty of people alone! I know so many people (and I am sure you do too) who do not have a family of their own, or within their reach. So, my plan is threefold:
3.1 Reach out to others who are alone too
First, connect with people who like us are in need of fellowship. It might be a weekly or fortnightly call or message to check in on them, have a brief conversation, show them that someone is thinking of them, and encourage them.
And I mean a genuine conversation. Not a “Hello, I hope you’re well. God bless, take care.” I can’t stand this superficial way of “touching base”.
If you feel unsure how to reach out to others, here’re some thoughts:
Ask them open questions and invite them to share with you
“How are you coping in this difficult season? I am sure it is not easy.”
And if they share, take time to respond to what they are saying. Empathise with them. You would like others to do the same with you.
Be present and listen
Don’t just spam them with daily bible verses or pretty pictures, but rather dialogue with them.
Share about yourself
How do you feel? How are things with you?
Be honest and truthful. You don’t need to overshare, if you don’t feel comfortable about it or if the level of relationship doesn’t allow for it. But bear in mind, many people will feel more encouraged by someone who is going through a similar experience as they are.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, NIV)
3.2 Build your own support network
It is so necessary to have a good support network to reach out to – even if just “digitally”.
My support network are close friends, some of them are older than me, some have family, others are alone just like me. Yet they all are people who I trust and feel close to. With them I can be real. I feel comfortable to freely speak my mind and share what is going on inside my heart. They are solid believers and I know they will not poison my mind with negativity, fear or anything else.
Do you have a support network? Think about whom you trust, whom you can go to, who will encourage you. Be upfront and tell them, that especially in this season, you want to keep in touch more regularly than usual.
3.3 Be a light to the world
Let’s also be a light to the people around us. Neighbours, people we meet in the street or in the supermarket. I don’t know how people who don’t know Christ can navigate through this difficult season. Who do they go to? Who do they lean on? What is their hope for the future?
Be a light to those in the world! Don’t walk by. Stop and have a friendly chat. You might be the only person they have talked to in days.
Don’t share the latest news item you heard. They don’t need you for that; they all have access to it themselves. Rather, be positive and encourage them to have hope. If the situation allows, share the gospel. Tell them, there is a God who loves them and wants the best for them.
Our world needs hope more than ever.
4. Look after your health*
4.1 Eat wisely
“One minute on your lips, forever on your hips” – right? Well, not only on your hips. What we eat, gets into our system – our blood, our brain and also our thinking.
Eating healthily is important not only for our physical wellbeing but our mental health as well. I think when we go through a difficult time, it is even more important to watch our diet. So for me, this means NO to processed food and certainly NO to binge-eating junk food!
Instead I’ll have regular and healthy meals – home cooked, with fruits, vegetables and salads. I also will include some favourites and – on the rare occasion and as something to look forward to – some junk food.
4.2 Exercise – indoors and outdoors
With the gyms closed and less opportunity to get out of the house, we should be more intentional about physical exercise. There are plenty of tutorials available online and depending on the local regulations, we can still go outside, to the parks or into open nature.
I like to go for long walks in a forest near me. Here I can breathe in the cold, fresh air and absorb the quiet around me. Talk to God, daydream or listen to a podcast.
5. Do things that you enjoy
In this lockdown, let’s not just switch off in front of the TV. There’re so many activities that can give us much more joy and satisfaction. Be intentional about them. Schedule them into your daily or weekly life. Make a list – this will help you remember. Maybe you like running, do handicraft, cook delicious meals, or read. Whatever it is, do things that you enjoy. A dear friend told me recently: “Focus on the things you still can do, not on those you can’t.”
Don’t pressure yourself
With all these many good intentions I have written down, I also know, that I should not make myself a slave to them. Their purpose is to guide me, help me focus, but they should never dominate me.
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Be sure to also read:
- Intimacy with God. Enjoy the blessings of Psalm 91.
- Why personal Bible study must be a priority in 2021
- Always pray, don’t give up. The importance of persistent prayer.
- It’s time to be a light to the world
* I am not a medical doctor, nutritionist or health expert. For professional advice on how to live healthily please speak to a healthcare professional.