How to Survive in the COVID-19 Wilderness
by Amy K. Sorrells, BSN, RN
As a front line healthcare worker, I spend my days navigating the overwhelming isolation and fear of patients in the midst of this brutal pandemic. The onset of COVID-19 was bad enough the first time around. Now with hospitals full again and re-instituting no visitation policies, patients are faced anew with fighting their diseases alone, the warmth and touch of their loved ones reduced to a one-dimensional blur on hospital issued iPads.
We haven’t even had time to recover from the spring.
The resurgence of isolation-related blame and anger, frustration and sheer exhaustion overshadow COVID-19 itself, and no wonder. God realized as soon as He created us that we needed companionship, and He knows we need it now. He knows we need to love and to be loved, and that so much of that occurs in the presence of others. We are withering emotionally and spiritually as insidious fear and emotional emptiness slowly but steadily drain joy from our hearts—again.
I searched the Scriptures to see if I could glean some answers, and I was surprised to find isolation more the norm than not for many of the most famous Bible characters. Moses, for example, spent forty years in the wilderness of Midian, and forty more leading the Israelites in the desert wilderness after that. Abraham left his land and family and faced years in the hinterlands alone. Elijah nearly starved to death in his backcountry wanderings. John the Baptist, Paul in prison, John the disciple banished to the island of Patmos, David running around the wilderness and hiding in caves, Mary’s entire pregnancy and birth of Jesus, and even Jesus Himself during his forty days of temptation—all of these and more faced perilous and intensely lonely seasons of isolation.
If it’s any consolation to us today, these people did not refrain from questioning and expressing their frustrations to God. And although their situations were all different, three common reactions emerged: they sought the Lord; they rested in the Lord; and they heeded the Lord’s instructions.
When David was at perhaps his most isolated in the desert of Judah, he wrote Psalm 63. In the first stanza David writes about earnestly seeking God in the midst of his distress. In the second and third, he writes about singing in the safe shadow of God’s wings. And in the last two stanzas, he talks about his confidence in God’s redemption of the situation. Similarly, over and over again wandering heroes of the Bible realize the futility of their predicaments. They drop to their knees in desperation. They express comfort and gratitude in God’s faithfulness. And, when God tells them to get up, they get up and do what they were called to do.
The isolation of these months can overshadow the fact that God still has a calling for you and your life. Our longing for the touch of loved ones can send us spiraling into depression and despair. But perhaps the most important realization of all is that what we’ve been most isolated from all along is the Lord. Focusing—or re-focusing—on Him can shift our perspective and help our hearts rise above the fray and frenzy of not only this pandemic but whatever future struggles we are sure to face.
Today, we have expert outdoorsmen who tell us that shelter, water, food and fire are the four things required to survive in the wilderness alone. In Christ, we have the shelter of His wings. We have living water and the bread of life in His Word. And we have the fire of the Holy Spirit to show us the way to go. Set your heart-compass on Him, for He is sovereign. He is faithful. And because of Him, none of us are ever alone.
Amy Sorrells is an RN and award-winning author of four novels of hope set in America’s heartland. Her first, upcoming non-fiction book, 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes, is available now for preorder. She and her husband have raised three young adult sons, and they live in central Indiana with their three spirited retrievers.
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