How to Cope in Containment

How to Cope in Containment

Documenting the Days during the COVID-19 Crisis

Containment is becoming a part of my new vocabulary as I stir up new words to help me cope during this dreadful, global pandemic. Sabbatical …freedom …creativity …new normal …opportunity. These always sound better than quarantine …stay home …only essential …unforeseeable future …crisis…pandemic.

Some days my emotional container is full of passion — overflowing with thoughts of how I can encourage others with the hope that is in me. Writing here, prayer zooms, video devotionals and family chats, Meeting people in the Middle of their journey with encouraging interviews,  waving and smiling at all my neighbors as I walk by, calling to check on friends and family, emails …overflowing, I tell you!

Other days, I’m overflowing with tears …crying uncontrollably and overwhelmed as I watch the curve begin to spike upward as this deadly pestilence silently stalks through our cities and towns with a vengeance —  seeking to suck the breath out of those within arm’s length.

Some days you just have to cry it all out.

“The more distant we feel from each other — the more we long to connect.”

Ann Voskamp


The first time I did a virtual  meeting with my co-workers, I welled up with tears realizing how much I had missed their faces!  We need each other.  We need social connection even in the midst of physical distancing, as  someone intuitively  stated.

At 5:00 p.m. today (4.4.20), our state is officially exercising a stay-at-home mandate.  It’s another new day as we continue to walk an unprecedented path. Two weeks are moving into 2 more and possibly 2 months … uncharted territory with no clear expiration date.

I’ve had to have a few serious talk with myself and with my Father in heaven.   First, pleading with Him to protect my family from this vicious virus.  Secondly, what am I supposed to DO during this open-ended time of waiting and containment?  He answered …

“Plant your gardens…” 

Me:  “Uh …what?”

“Plant your gardens …”

And the simple answer that I believe the Spirit was giving me that day was to continue doing the things I COULD do during this time.  One thing literally being, plant my gardens …

My husband’s the vegie gardner

So I planted …and I planted …and I planted some more.  And it felt like breathing fresh, life-giving air  into my soul. 

The Beginning of a Divine Treasure Hunt

Knowing that phrase, “plant gardens” was nestled somewhere in possibly an obscure place in the Bible,  I went on a hunt…

 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.”

Jeremiah 29:5 (NIV)

Excited to see that the Spirit had given me a direct mandate straight from Scripture was pretty cool — but the rest is even more interesting.  This word of the Lord was given to the Jewish people WHO WERE IN EXILE!  And all of a sudden, the word, exile, had a whole new meaning. 

God was actually sending a message to His people thousands of years ago that resonates clearly with us today in our time of quarantine and containment.  What do we do?  How do we act?  How do we live our lives in  a foreign land, a.k.a. pandemic crisis.  We’re out of our element.  Unfamiliar territory.  Contained in a contaminated wilderness with no Promised Land in sight.  

God gives further coping-in-containment directives by instructing them to marry, have children and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (from Jeremiah 29:6-7 NIV)

In other words, carry on with the normal things of life that you CAN do and for goodness sake, be the people of God I created you to be and pray for the peace and prosperity of the city or town you live in.  

Plant.  Pray.  Socially connect even in your time of exile.  

But here’s the shocker for me…

Lo and behold Jeremiah 29:11 — one of the most well-quoted verses by the church people to those who are looking for direction and God’s will  or struggling with doubt …

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Are you serious!  Who knew that verse flowed from the mouth of the Lord to people in containment!?  This is an encouragement to His people at a time when they were  longing for life as they once knew it to be …normal.  And the kicker ? Turns out their exile-containment would last for 70 years my friends.  70 years!  Life would not get back to normal for s-e-v-e-n-t-y years.  

Thank God I’m pretty sure COVID-19 doesn’t last that long on any surface!

Finding Hope as we Cope

With some semblance of hope in the fact that “this too shall pass,” as my Mama always said, we walk on.  We plant.  We pray.  We love those in the best way we can.  We show up in the best way we know how. 

We wave at neighbors and ask if we can buy groceries or mow their lawn.  We call those we love and check in on them.   We settle our houses back down from the tornadic  flurry of activity we had gotten sucked up into.  We play games and sip iced tea on the front porch.  We sweep our floors and wash our clothes.  We look for ways to love others and share our resources — even toilet paper.  We pray with others —  virtually if necessary.  We write.  We video.  We sing.

We may be physically distancing ourselves for a time  but we don’t  stop living.  We don’t give up.  We don’t cease to exist.  We don’t wallow in pity.  We don’t stop giving (even if it’s on-line).  We don’t stop creating.  

We keep planting hope as we wait in containment.  There’s sure to be a harvest one day.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NIV)

Be sure to check out the collaborative effort of Ann Voskamp and many others in response to  the COVID Crisis: ShowUpNow

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Becky Miller

    Loved this. Very encouraging.

    1. We’re all in this together, Becky! Can’t wait to hear how your journey is going. Love you friend !

  2. Joy3

    Yes ma’am! Cry it out and plant!!! I love your beautiful gardens!!! Love and miss you friend! Keep spreading hope with those flowers 💛🦋

    1. Indeed ! We’re all spreading hope in the best way we know how and with whatever tools are in our hands. Keep sharing your life-giving videos sis ! Love you !

  3. Ben

    This is really good, mama. Thank you

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