Some nations around the world have already concluded their mandatory periods of COVID-19 lockdown. In South Africa we are still in that process. Our differences in character, age group and cultural background all play a role in how we experience and respond to this time. Following, are some thoughts that may encourage and help you to pray for yourself and family, as all experience different emotions in their struggle to cope. Everyone will probably experience most of these emotions at some point, either in a different order, intensity or situation. Use these points to encourage your family to pray for each other, and not fall into the trap of seeing others as a threat or reason for their own misery!
1. Being positive
Initially, you feel excited about all the things you want to do and never have time for. You may have ideals or have set targets and deadlines to do or finish certain things. You may even, subconsciously, have set goals that you feel those around you should meet or accomplish.
Pray for the Lord to show you what is on His heart, what He wants you to do, as well as which of these thoughts of your heart will be beneficial to your family. Be willing to listen to His voice and surrender unrealistic resolutions in order to avoid disappointment – in yourself and your family members or even congregational members.
Meditate: John 10:3 – To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Lockdown periods or times of isolation normally have an effect on every person, whether positive or negative. This is a time when the basics of ‘establishing a discipline’ hits hard. Perseverance will help you set a new pattern – do not give up.
Pray for God to help you stick to the basic routine He has shown you in the beginning. Should your routine change, make sure it is for the better and not a “surrender” to pressure or negativity. Pray for grace to press forward, because you know in your heart these things you heard from Him is His will and purpose, for you and your family.
Meditate: 2 Peter 1:5-8 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3.Satisfaction vs dissatisfaction
There may be times when you will feel yourself being more productive, and then again less productive. These feelings may sometimes last for only a few hours and at other times a few days in a row. In this stage you may experience how your emotions fluctuate between feeling ‘satisfied’, ‘frustrated’ or ‘dissatisfied’.
Pray: Whenever you have these ‘feelings’ bring them to the Lord in prayer immediately. Delaying to do that may lead to us taking out our frustration on those around us and that is particularly likely when confined to small restricted spaces! Take time during the day or early, just to sit with the Lord and speak to Him about the frustrations you experience, but also to give thanks for times of great productivity.
Meditate: Psalm 106:1 – Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
After some days you will have settled into a basic routine and the newness of everything is over. You may start to feel disconnected from friends, miss going out or having freedom to take a walk, even becoming bored beyond what you feel you can bear. This may lead to outbursts of anger, or just crying for no reason at all.
Pray: Bring every emotion before the Lord in prayer as time goes on, keep conversing with Him as much as possible. Also share openly and honestly with your family members what you experience – this may give opportunity for you to pray together as a family. Pray about these things daily for your family, asking for grace and that none will just explode in anger or frustration. Remember, your friends experience the same – contact them as the Holy Spirit leads you and pray for them. Ministering to others always alleviates our own despair.
Meditate: 2 Corinthians 7:6 – Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…
Even though you fully understand the reason for, and the importance and responsibility of confinement, you may just reach a point of feeling you have had ‘enough’. Then, for a while, nothing may seemingly help you feel better. Experts say that taking a short walk – as is possible, even on the spot – and simply breathing deeper than normally for a few minutes, will almost immediately subside unsettled emotions for most people. Decide for yourself to do that every time you feel on the edge of losing your resolve.
Pray: While walking, even on the spot – speak to the Lord or just pray everything you feel at that moment; give it to Him. Ask Him for His peace that surpasses all understanding to flood your heart and mind.
Meditate: Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
6.Making peace and sense of it all
There comes a moment when you realise that you cannot change the current circumstances of confinement for the appointed period. You realise that the current situation is not a vendetta against you personally. You realise the picture is bigger. It is especially about others whose health and circumstances may be much more vulnerable than your own.
Pray: Ask the Lord to help you accept the circumstances and let go of that which is not in your control. Pray for His wisdom on how to optimise the opportunity to rest, spend time with your family and sort out things in the house.
Meditate: Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
7.Cut back on the news
Subconsciously, the current uncertainty causes us to keep checking the different social media platform messages incessantly, including watching and reading the news. This influx of information increases our stress, anxiety and fear, and can even cause panic attacks. Prevention is the best cure, so be sure to limit the amount of time you spend on social media, as well as news reports. Seek information mainly to understand what practical steps you need to take and what to prepare for. When you do seek information updates, do so at specific times and from trusted sources. Intentionally put your focus, heart and mind on being creative and constructive.
Pray and ask the Lord to help you focus your mind on Him more, to become less distracted and take time to read your Bible or a good book.
Meditate: Colossians 3:2 – Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
8.Family and loneliness
Times of crisis bring out different things in different people. Being around people we typically try to avoid, can be challenging! In a family setup, if even one person makes the tiniest of changes in the way they behave, it will influence the rest of the family. In a solitary setup, be sure to have a basic routine, including: healthy eating, some exercise and interaction with others as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you how to change your behaviour – perhaps by starting to compliment a family member who is really making things difficult in the house – and do it constantly for a few days. Do not just give up. Every person has something we can compliment them on. When you are all by yourself during this time, ask the Lord how you can organise your day. Reach out to someone else – even starting to pray for people on WhatsApp.
Meditate: Colossians 3:12-14 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
9.Fear of loss of income
Several businesses that struggled to make it from month to month, will most probably not survive the impact of losing trade for 21 days. Those working on a commission basis, part-time domestic workers, waiters and car guards etc. depending on daily tips to buy food, don’t have an income now.
Pray for everyone you know in this position. Ask the Lord how you can possibly support them in this time. Pray for each business and person God puts on your heart every morning, that He will come through for them in supernatural ways.
Meditate: 2 Kings 4:5- So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. …. she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”