Social Distancing ≠ Isolation. Crisis Can = Growth.

CULTURE | Alli Patterson | 7 mins

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Spring plans have vanished right before our eyes with the appearance of COVID-19 in the United States. We are all being stripped down. Even though many of us would love someone to tell us where to find milk, soap, and toilet paper right now, we’re actually about to get some way more valuable information.

We are about to see a very clear picture of our own faith. This odd time we’re living through is a stress-test for our hearts. The output of that test is going to tell us a lot about where we are with God. Whether the results are good or bad, this can be a time we get stronger. But not if we go it alone.

I know that people are facing all different kinds of loss because of this pandemic. Some loss is about personal goals or plans you’ve worked towards for a long time. Some loss is financial, and suddenly you wonder how you’ll pay your bills next month. Some loss will inevitably be the loss of health or even life for some. This is all loss, and it all hurts.

Much of my loss to-date has been about personal goals, plans, and finances. There was the 12-day trip for which I prepared for six months to lead: gone by quarantines. My son’s global learning trip to Italy (that he worked and earned for a year for): nope. Even silly things we look forward to doing with our friends like brackets for March Madness: finished with one press release. A job I’d been hired for: lost because of the size of the gathering. And at this point, my graduation with my master’s degree that’s taken me five years to do looks to be in jeopardy on the timing planned. Loss is coming at all of us in different ways, falling on us like dominos.

I understand the public health risk at stake, and I totally support the proactive approach to protect as many people as possible. It’s still a lot to take in. It’s still all various kinds of loss. The Bible says loss, pain, and difficulty is coming at us in this life, and those times are a great way to find out where our faith stands.

I felt God wanted me to notice something this past week: I am actually hanging in there pretty well (so far). I’m not devastated. I’m not angry. I’m not crying. I’m not scared. I don’t feel entitled to have back everything I’ve lost. I feel pretty patient with it all. I’m in a pretty solid place emotionally and with God. I expect the next couple of months will challenge this further, but it’s good information for me to take note of going in. I plan to have an ongoing conversation with God as I continue to face challenges and loss during these next couple of months. Where would you say you are right now?

This is what the apostle Peter wrote about in his letter to the earliest followers of Jesus when they were facing difficulty. Peter told them that trials and loss were serving a purpose, which was to reveal “the genuineness of your faith.” Times of trouble give us a clear view of the state of our hearts towards God.

Do we trust?
Do we freak?
Are we angry when we can’t have what we want?
How do we handle plans being canceled?
Do we feel entitled to full compensation?
Are we unwilling to accept loss?
Do we hoard in fear?
Do we ask our neighbors what they need?
Do we refuse to care for others in the protection of only ourselves?

Peter went on to say in his letter that difficulties of all sorts are refining our faith—its purity and value are most clearly seen in the middle of all the crap. When everything is going smoothly, the real state of our faith is hidden. Many times we just don’t know where our faith really is unless it’s put to the test.

And make no mistake—the impact of coronavirus on every single one of us is a test. I’m not saying God is doing this to us to test us. God is never the author of evil, and this pandemic is not authored by God. But God wastes nothing, so every trial inevitably reveals what we believe. We can let it push us to a new place producing growth on the other side, or we can hide and hoard and wait it out and miss the chance entirely.

Maybe your faith has been growing, and you’re about to find out that you are much stronger than you think.

If that’s you during this coronavirus business, then God wants you to “be ready.” You’re strong for exactly this type of moment—to be used for the good of other people. Be on the lookout for opportunities to give and serve (in ways you may not even want). They’re coming, so be ready—maybe even just to offer your neighbor a roll of your toilet paper. Maybe you’ll dare to have a small group in your home to eat dinner after a couple of weeks of being alone (still wash hands and take all distance precautions, of course). Your trust in God and your faith is meant to be a resource for others’ comfort. You can free others just by visibly sharing, praying, preparing wisely, and leading well during this time. Be ready.

Maybe your faith is not strong right now.

You don’t particularly trust God. You’re really hurting or doubting. You feel afraid of the state of our country or your own health. Maybe you’re prone to hunker down in isolation that might end in high anxiety or depression. I believe God would want you to know this; “You can borrow what you need.”

You don’t have to conjure it up on your own. He meets needs through His people. In Matthew 9:2-3, a paralyzed man was healed because his friends brought him to Jesus. It was THEIR faith that moved Jesus. That’s the kind of community we see in the Bible; a group of people who TOGETHER possess all the gifts of God and the power of His Spirit. God has used his people many times during unsettling periods of history to rise up and take care of people in all kinds of ways. Why not ask God to show you where his people are? Social distancing might be necessary, but isolation is not. He has people everywhere.

You’re officially invited to be a part of our community, no matter where you live. We’ve got a lot happening digitally right now to try to ease the pain of disconnection in this very bizarre time.
  • Watch our weekend services anytime.
  • Join daily worship every morning at 8:30am or evening at 7pm on Facebook Live.
  • Follow @crdschurch on social for encouragement every day.
  • Find people in your city or neighborhood from our community here.
  • Ask for prayer or find our community reading the Bible together inside our Crossroads Anywhere App. Here’s what it looks like in the app store:

Crossroads Anywhere

None of us have to go this alone. In each of these places, you can find real people going through the same thing, trying to do it in the context of faith. When Coronavirus shows you the real picture of your own faith, see it for what it is, and respond. Whatever you find out, you can grow from there. Don’t go it alone: God and His people are near.


Written by

Alli Patterson

Writer, teacher, Buckeye fan. The-one-who-always-asks-"why." Despiser of small talk. Runner who's getting a little slower every year. Committed wife and mom of 4.

Published on Mar 20, 2020
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...
  1. What strikes you most about Alli’s article? Why?

  2. As coronavirus impact tests you, what are you noticing about yourself (and if you believe in God, your faith?) Try to articulate at least three reflections the crisis has revealed. They don’t have to be epic. “I’m embarrassed to ask someone for toilet paper” works just as well as “I’m realizing I don’t really believe God will provide. I’m wondering how/why He’s letting this happen.”

  3. How can you resist isolation even in this time of social distancing? If you are in a position to be ready to help others, who might God be prompting you to reach? If you need to borrow from others right now, who can you reach out to for help—spiritually, emotionally, or practically? Think of at least one person, and send a text now.

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