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Restoration and strength through trial

Today is day 39 of sheltering in place for me, and the isolation is taking its toll. In many ways, I feel (as I’m sure most everyone does) like my life is on hold. Beyond the difficulty of being torn away from my newfound community at Brown, of trying to maintain motivation to learn on my own time, and of being physically separated from many of the people I love, I think the most difficult part of quarantine is uncertainty. I had many plans for the rest of my year, but now I don’t know whether any of them will be realized. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see friends again, or whether we’ll be back on campus in September, or how social distancing will continue to affect our lifestyles months from now.

As someone who takes comfort in having a schedule and a plan, it’s easy to despair in the midst of so much uncertainty and to feel that I can’t continue living and learning in isolation for any longer. But when I turn to the readings for today, I am reminded that this quarantine is a small suffering I can endure, and that the Lord can strengthen me through it: 

Resist [the Devil], steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. - 1 Peter 5:9-10

This difficult period in our lives is not the end. It is a brief moment of trial that will refine us, if we allow it to. The tasks I am being asked to fulfill are simply to stay at home for the sake of those who are vulnerable, to love my family well, and to draw near to Jesus in prayer. He is stripping away my false sense of control over my life, and inviting me to truly learn how to trust him. Now that so many daily distractions have been taken away, I am able to more clearly understand that my purpose is to love God, trust in his divine providence, and share his merciful love with everyone I encounter. If I use this isolation to purify my desires and to recenter my life around Christ, I will know him so much more intimately. 

I am confident that the Lord will restore each of us through this quarantine. When we finally emerge—when we can once again receive him in the Eucharist and worship him together as a community—we will encounter his risen glory as never before, and we will rejoice in His presence.

Joanna Jarvis is a first-year concentrating in Urban Studies and sent us this post from Yuba City, CA.

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