For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Acts 28:30-31
As a parent, you try to do what is best for your children. And yet, despite all of your good intentions, things can still go wrong. This past Thursday my youngest was diagnosed with chickenpox. Yes, I said CHICKENPOX! Apparently vaccines only go so far. The plus is that since he has been vaccinated it is a significantly milder outbreak of the virus. The negative is that we are quarantined until the rash clears up. Granted, as it is has been in the triple digits the past several days, we’d probably be spending a lot of time indoors anyway. However, it wouldn’t all be spent in our indoors!!
After our first full day of quarantine my husband and pox-free oldest son went to Wal-Mart to get a few more boardgames to add to our Uno and Jenga rotations. And, I’ve been dvr-ing the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the old Adam West Batman show as well as the early Harry Potter movies. But still, movies and games and blocks can only fill so much time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the apostle Paul under house arrest in Rome for two years. I can’t imagine staring at the same walls for two whole weeks, let alone two years! I’m not sure Sherwin Williams sells enough paint to make that situation fresh and exciting!! And yet, I know there are those imprisoned throughout our world for much longer periods of time. Some, of course, are serving time for crimes committed against others. Yet there are many forced into prison for standing up against tyranny and oppression and for fighting for freedoms that we take for granted. It makes our week of quarantine sound like a resort vacation!! I find myself wondering how they can stand it. How do they face day after day of the same walls, the same furniture, unable to step outside and feel the warmth of the sun? How do they choose to rise each morning knowing that there will be no trip to the store or the cafe, no drive through the countryside or hike through the woods or walk along the beach? How can they stand the isolation from the rest of the world?
For those whose hope is in the Lord, I think that Paul gives a wonderful example of how to respond in those times in our lives where we are, or feel, cut off and imprisoned from the rest of the world. To begin, Paul had friends in lots of places. Brothers and Sisters in Christ came from all over to fellowship with him, to pray with him, to encourage him in his imprisonment. People need to know that they’re not alone.
Second, Paul understood that God had a plan. He knew from the time he set out to Jerusalem several years earlier that God was sending him to Rome to preach the gospel. He might not have expected to arrive in chains, but think of the opportunities he had to spread the gospel message!! An enforced time of solitude can be useful in tending to the tasks God has placed before us, tasks that might, otherwise, get lost in the hustle and bustle of day to day living.
Finally, it is important to remember that God equips his people with the strength necessary to endure the tribulations they face. No matter where we find ourselves in this life, God is there with us. I love this passage from Joshua:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
I don’t know how long our little quarantine will last, but I am praying that God will use this time to do some good work!
Blessings and Peace,