Don't waste your quarantine

For the moment, we are a quarantined people. As of my writing this column Governor Wolf has "shut down" Pennsylvania, which has people working from home, facing temporary unemployment, or experiencing restrictions upon their work routine.

We are being told to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing if we have to venture out. Students especially seniors have to cope with the cancellation of activities that they have been looking forward to for months, and in exchange, are "stuck" in the house.

Every household is facing unexpected challenges. So how does your family cope with all of this uncertainty?

Let me shock you a bit with my response to the situation we find ourselves in at the moment: What a great opportunity! Let's not waste it. That's right, don't waste your quarantine.

This could end up being one of the seasons of life that you look back upon with gratitude towards God because he surprised you with unexpected blessings that never would have transpired without this crisis.

I want to give some simple advice to every family reading this column; Cook together. Sit together. Pray together. Eat together. Have some fun together. Simply put, be together.

Quarantine is the perfect excuse to hang-out as a family. But don't stop there. Talk together. Say I'm sorry. Say I love you. Tell stories. Remember when and plan for the future. Talk about the importance of grieving losses.

Sit at your table and let each person speak of what makes them sad about the sudden changes taking place. Identify and reinforce good grief.

Timothy Keller wrote, "The mark of wisdom is to be ready for suffering. If you aren't, you are not competent with regard to the realities of life. But suffering is also a discipline for growth in wisdom. It can drive you toward God into greater love and strength or away from him into hardness of heart."

Remember that suffering can lead to joy. In this case, it can bring a closeness which leads to deeper relationships.

During these family conversations, take time to count your blessings as well. Go around the table and give thanks for the positives in this new normal. God has not stopped being good just because COVID-19 has interrupted our schedules.

Are you working from home these days? Help your children see the value of your work. Ask yourself this question; what do I want my children to learn and appreciate about the work that I do?

This is a great time to begin to explore with kids just how God has wired them and what they may enjoy pursuing as a career.

Finally, during this strange season of quarantine, find ways to bless other people. When pandemics hit communities, Christians rise up to serve others.

As a family, make home-made cards and mail them. You can call, email or text friends or neighbors just to check in on them. Make a family phone call to an elderly person and sing to them and then let everyone say hello and chat awhile.

Gather extra food, books, magazines or toys to donate to families who are struggling through this time. Make a pot of soup or a batch of cookies together and deliver them to the doorstep of a neighbor or friend.

Hold a family prayer gathering to intercede for researchers, healthcare workers, leaders in government, etc. as they perform important duties and make difficult decisions in the quest for helping to solve the COVID-19 crisis.

Yes, these are stressful times, but they can be the catalyst for creating some of the most meaningful moments of your life, not to mention lifting others out of their loneliness or depression.

I say this because I believe that God can use these days to form healthy relational habits that will last long after COVID-19 is on the world's radar.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (redeeming the time). Like all of the other seasons of our lives, we only get to do this once. What a great opportunity! Don't waste your quarantine.n

Rev. John and Kathy Friedlund serve Grace E.C. Church in Ninevah and replies can be sent to johnfriedlund@gmail.com.