ISOLATION AND COMPASSION
The memes and the quips scrolled by me faster than I could keep up. It seemed that everyone had something to say about self-isolation, quarantine, lockdown, and the restrictions that, with very little warning, were suddenly thrust upon us.
I hit the “like” button more times than I could count …
Finally, the rest of the world would understand what many of us had been feeling for years. Finally, the rest of the world would feel the isolation that many of us in the never-never land of chronic illness had already been coping with … or not.
I hoped that the rest of the world would soon learn compassion. I hoped that the rest of the church would see that all of the new online benefits could remain in place for those of us who have been in lockdown for more days than we would care to count.
While I was wishfully hoping, however, I felt a nudging in my heart.
ISOLATION AND COMPASSION: THE GENTLE NUDGE OF JESUS
I recognized the nudging. It was the kind that would lead to conviction, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it.
Couldn’t I just stay in this place of “I told you so,” a little longer? My finger-pointing rapidly lost its appeal as the compassion of Jesus flooded over me.
For you see, it was the Easter season. We were many weeks into Lent, and we were all focused on the suffering of what our Lord had carried for our sakes. Then the pandemic shifted our gaze to what WE were suffering. Many were experiencing the isolation already well known in the chronic illness community.
If you are anything like me, MY suffering soon ramps up into a place of bitterness that can run with the best of the world’s angry chatters:
Give us our rights!
Give us back our positions!
Give us back our lives!
ISOLATION AND COMPASSION: WEEPING OVER OUR RIGHTS
The Spirit weeps over our hearts, as we weep over our rights.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:16-18)
He came to bring us back to the heart of our Father, so we could see ourselves as His children. We have inherited ETERNAL LIFE with Him, and we are grudging our shortages and the restrictions placed upon us.
We have forgotten the privilege of suffering that has come along with the joy of sharing in His glory. He has called us to join with Him, to bear the sufferings of this age, so that we could more fully know the glory of sonship.
My heart was broken.
He has already poured His compassion upon me in this place where I have felt so isolated. He has already given me glimpses and moments and hours of intimate fellowship with Him as I was pulled back from the rush of mainstream busyness.
Shouldn’t the memes and the graphics that I long for carry a different tone?
COMPASSION AND COMFORT IN THE UNEXPECTED JOURNEY OF SLOW
I remembered His invitation to me, early in my journey of slow:
“Come with ME. I am not ashamed by your weakness. Your weakness is what draws me to you. I am already inside, the Kingdom of God is within you. Your pain does not offend me”
I knew where the conviction would fall in my heart. He gave me HIS comfort so that I could return that same comfort to those who were joining this rank of isolation. For however long it might last, however temporary this fellowship of suffering might be, while we are on this path, He gave me a gift to share.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
The verses flowed over me:
You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. (Jeremiah 8:18)
Now, the most convicting of all, the passage that so many of us can quote from memory:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
What if those of us in the chronic illness community let our voices be raised in comfort instead of bitter moaning? Yes, we deal with isolation and so many have forgotten us. Yes, so many trampled on and ignored our rights — but shouldn’t we have compassion, knowing how hard isolation is?
ISOLATION AND COMPASSION: THE PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING
Jesus has never forgotten us — and I can fully express that I have known comfort while in this place of weakness that I never would have known otherwise. This is the privilege that He asks me to share now.
- Smiling when a delivery man leaves a package on my step
- Sending a text when I hear about a neighbor who is hurting
- Calling my loved ones when they are shocked over restrictions they are facing
- Sending a card expressing my love when I read about another’s aching
- Saying a prayer when my heart sees so much suffering
Turning away from the large and busy gave me a benefit. I have come to see the gift that is in the small and the slow. I may not have seen it had I not been placed here, but I would not trade it now for any of the BIG this world has to offer — for my Jesus took the way of the humble and the meek, and I want to walk with Him.
PRAYER FOR THE DAYS OF ISOLATION
Will you join me in prayer?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for giving your life so that we could become the sons and daughters of God. Your resurrection has made the way open for us to find new life in You, and we are filled with gratitude. Forgive us for clinging to our old ways of life. Help us to lay down the bitterness that so easily tries to latch onto our hearts again. Show us how YOU have never left us. Remind us of how You have carried us when the pain and weakness shut us away from the rest of the world — and would You help us to join with You in loving those who are now facing new hurts? Show us how we can share the comfort You have given to us. Stir our hearts to humbly give love, even as You have loved us. In the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen.
Chronic Joy Contributing Writer
You can find Bettie blogging from her home in the far north suburbs of Chicago at bettiegsraseasons.com. She is walking forward with Jesus in the middle of her pain and weakness from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature, as well as her family (including nine young grandchildren), are Bettie's joys. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great delight in their weekend coffee breaks together.
Chronic Joy® devotionals are an invitation to take one gentle step, to pray in a comforting and familiar or perhaps new-to-you way, or to cry out on behalf of one precious life today … maybe even yours.
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