The COVID-19 pandemic has been the central attention for news reporting this year, and it’s been quite the year! Wherever you are reading this blog, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some kind of quarantine, shelter at home, possibly a COVID-related death in your family or friend circle, maybe you’ve contracted and recovered from COVID and maybe it’s impacted your income, health and perspective. I suspect there’s not a person who is reading this blog that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19.
For me, this pandemic was most drastically experienced in April, when Colorado mandated a shelter-at-home directive, whereby all of us, including my kids, didn’t leave the house except for essential things like grocery shopping. During this shelter-at-home experience, lots of us learned how to Zoom and hopefully you also enjoyed some fun Snapchat filters to make Zoom more zippy and perky. I learned how to put a cat on my head, turn my background into a tropical beach and wear earrings with a beautiful turban for some comic relief.
It also seems to me that this shelter-at-home gig, or doing the quarantine adventure, has caused many of us to have less social interaction and possibly struggle with human connection. So what can we do to cure, or at least mitigate, the quarantine blues? Does Jesus have any answers or relevance for the COVID quarantine struggles?
I’d like you to consider that in Jesus’ day, the quarantine gig was most obvious in the physical context with lepers, since leprosy was incurable, contagious and tragic. At Jesus’ time in history, if someone contracted leprosy, they were cut off from their community and they understood that they’d die a slow, painful, solitary and gruesome death. In the Gospels, however, we read that Jesus touched and healed lepers so that their physical health and social interactions were restored and returned to normal. To this day, Jesus still heals!
Another social quarantine happened in Jesus’ day in the context of economic and political exclusion. Zacchaeus would be a superior example of being ostracized or quarantined because of his economic and political activities, since he was a tax collector and perceived as a turncoat who supported Roman occupation in the nation of Israel. In our modern context, I would suggest that the U.S. has more than enough political and economic tension to create virtual quarantines among people who want ideological conformity and have little, if any tolerance, for differences in opinions, life experiences or perspectives. In Jesus’ time, His world was also highly polarized politically, economically and religiously. Jesus, however, stretched beyond such political, economic and religious isolations (or quarantines) when He recognized Zacchaeus and had lunch with him. Jesus surpasses economic and political quarantines.
Finally, I’d suggest that Jesus stepped into the middle of the mental health context and crisis when He met a demon possessed man. This tragic man exhibited his mental health crisis through self-isolation because of demon possession. But Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee to meet the demon possessed man. Upon meeting Jesus the tortured man, who self-isolated and lived among the tombs, experienced freedom in Jesus! Jesus kicked out the demons, restored the man’s sanity and told him to go to his home and declare God’s magnificent intervention, redemption and reintegration into his home community!
In these three contexts: physical, economic / political, and mental health, Jesus addresses the quarantine and self-isolating concerns that we might experience in our current COVID context. I would suggest that Jesus has three helpful keys to overcoming our quarantine struggles:
- Community is critical for navigating quarantine.
- Jesus is the central solution for healing, reconciliation and stability with mental health.
- Let Jesus direct your decisions for health and interacting with people.
I appreciate that community can be very challenging and difficult during this COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it’s very important to prioritize and have community through church groups, Bible studies, Zoom connections, Facetime, texting, phone calls, etc. at this time! In my opinion, community in our day has never been more important than it is right now!