As a free-spirited extrovert, I fill my cup by being around people. The thought of being locked in my house by governmental mandate goes against every natural grain in my body and soul. That being said, I do believe that God has a plan and a purpose for every season of life and that it is wise to pay extra attention to the difficult ones.
When my husband and I saw confinement speeding around the corner, we tried to prepare both the church and our family as much as possible. We knew that some things such as baptisms, weddings and personal visits to suffering people, had to happen either before or after the confinement. It was a flurry of movement as we found ourselves doing things, like renting a hotel room near the church to conduct a baptism for a refugee couple because the room we rent for the church isn’t properly equipped. Our service was beautiful. It looked and felt as I imagine a first-century church service.
A few days later, we celebrated a wedding for a couple in the church. During the meal, we received the news. The French government announced that we were in confinement for the unforeseeable future. As the media announced progressively overnight the new organization of public life, we didn’t find out until we went to church the next day: that holding a church service would be illegal.
Yes. Just like that, we could no longer hold services. Fortunately, friends in Tahiti had been asking us to film our services for them, so we already had some of the necessary material ready. Against everything within me, I had to call people on our way to church and tell them not to come. It broke my heart. One lady responded, “The devil is NOT going to keep me from going to church.” I answered, “I am not the devil, but we have to respect the laws of the country and hold service online.” So we went to the church building and held our first online service for CC Paris.
Then we went home—the reality hit.
We could no longer go out of the house. That means, whenever there is a bad mood, conflict, fatigue, or fill in the blank, there is no escape. This can be daunting, especially knowing there is no exact end-date. If we need to leave, we have to fill out an authorization paper, or there is a fine ( $145 for the first offense; $1,613 for the second, if you break confinement). This causes a lot of stress on everyone! In the first week, the government fined over 90,000 people breaking confinement!
I’ve been reflecting on confinement and about God’s hand in this. I know God has kindness in store for us during this confinement. Not evil but good. I was reminded that God is the God of order, not confusion. Not of fear, but peace. He has a specific plan for each one of us during this season to come. Many of us will be in good health or will be mildly sick during this confinement. It will be a good time to deal with issues that we have become accustomed to saying, “I am too busy to deal with that now.” Now we aren’t too busy. We can take this time and work things out. Talk to the people around you. Internet lines will be saturated because everyone in the community is at home trying to work. But it will end up being a good thing because we will have to work differently. We will have to work on our communication, and it will be raw at times. We will just have each other and the Lord.
When you can’t turn to the things in your life that you normally do - you can deal with the why’s.
- Why do I turn to retail therapy rather than just talk things out with my teens or my husband?
- Why would I spend so much time with my friends and so little with my family?
- Why am I so given to…?
A little introspection is a good thing. It helps us to grow and develop when we bring these things to God. He can help us through it. He can use this moment, this quiet moment—or for those of us with children in the house—this very noisy moment, to speak to us. He can reach into the depths of our souls and heal those areas that need healing. We might be thankful for the confinement in the end.
A friend from China wrote to me a few days ago and shared about how mentally taxing it becomes after a while. She made it through, and by God’s grace, we can too. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones as we all lean more into Jesus. We have God on our side. He walks with us and shelters us in the shadow of His wing. What is the worst that can happen to us? As it says in Psalm 91:1-2:
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most-High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'"