Don't Waste Your Quarantine2
Quarantines. Up until recently, some may not have heard of them, and many may not have known what they meant. Now, some simply see them as confinement, while others grasp the potential life-saving effort behind instituting them.
On the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, a small town close to the Beirut seaport was used to quarantine sailors who had fallen ill onboard coming ships. The town was renamed Karantina, the Arabic word for quarantine. A few decades ago, the town was no longer used as a quarantine, but the name had stuck. But God had often shown his wisdom in choosing what is weak and foolish (or what is considered as such by the world) for his glorious purposes. In that light, a church was planted in the late 1970s, which persisted through war and persecution, to lead many to the light of the world, and to train several men from the Arab world to plant and shepherd churches, and teach the word of God. This, my church, persists today, and is known simply as Karantina Church – the church of the quarantine.
You see, oftentimes what we perceive as evil, what is truly evil, God can reshape and use for his glorious purposes according to his eternal plan and the counsel of his will (Acts 2:14-36; 4:8-13). It would have been easy for the apostles, the early church, the medieval church, the reformers, and the ever-persecuted church to waste these opportunities and file grievance. But they did not. And we can see the fruit of perseverance and wise use of time.
Practical Ways to Use the Given Time
While a few continue to go to the workplace, others work from home, while several find themselves without the ability to work in either place. So what ways could this time be used? What follows is a non-exhaustive list, which you can consider as a general guideline in your attempt at remaining fruitful.
Read the Bible. Daily. Regularly. If you fell behind on your reading plan, use this time to catch up, and build on. Read with your family. Men: take the lead on this with your wives and children.
Read a good book, a novel, a commentary, or a biography. Pick up that book in your stall that you’ve always desired to read, or download one of the many books offered for free or at a discount from several online retailers.
Learn. Learn a new skill or study a new language. Learn sound doctrine. Many ministries made their resources available for free (such as Ligonier). Others produce regular, edifying articles (TGC, Desiring God, 9Marks).
Exercise and stay healthy. Do not raid the cupboard for things to munch on but exercise self-control. Take short or long walks in your own neighborhood while keeping yourself and others safe. Try to strike conversations with strangers from 6-feet away and avoid feeling suspicious that every stranger is strange or infected. Use these encounters to proclaim the good news.
Complete chores around the house. That fix you’ve always wanted to pour yourself on but never found time is calling. Men: do not wait for your wives to ask you for help, but take initiative in house chores and offer help regularly. Be humble to learn and be corrected. Cook or bake something new.
Communicate and connect. Social distancing is not meant to be isolation. Don’t just text or email. But call and do video chats. Pick up your phone and call that old friend you never had the time to reconnect with. Chat with that international student who is now staying alone. Do not forget single people and the shut-ins.
Use media and the internet wisely. Do not retweet that inflammatory prophesy of doom. Do not enter into that online debate (as if anyone ever was edified by such). Do not spend endless hours chasing conspiracy theories, or simply checking one breaking news after another. Don’t binge on video games or Netflix. Rather, use online platforms to speak the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to Americans and to foreign nationals. Spread the aroma of Christ online even when people cannot be around you to smell it.
Give. Give generously to the church. Look for opportunities to give wisely to several efforts for the Gospel and for relief.
Pray. Then pray again. Then pray some more. Pray for the pandemic to end. Pray through the headlines. Pray for essential workers. Pray for those suffering from lack. Pray for those quarantined with abusive people. Pray for the church, the state, the world. Pray for brothers and sisters. Use Crosstown’s prayer guide. Pray for a revival. Pray for an awakening to God!
Be content in the Lord. Be an encourager rather than a voice of doom. Let your words bring calm and peace into chaos and anxiety. Strive to tell at least one person daily about Jesus.
A Pleasing Aroma
After Karantina was no longer used as a quarantine, it was turned to a slaughterhouse. Then part of it was turned into a landfill. There was always an odor in the air. But inside the church, and through it, the aroma of Christ was being spread.
So, brothers and sisters: do not waste your quarantine. It may stink for now, but one day, when we will have to give an account before the judgment seat of God, I pray that our hands will be full of fruit that we will offer to God as a pleasing aroma before him.