I hope this ends sooner then we think, but in case this drags on for sometime I think some observations from the church in China might be useful for us. (This is the counselor side of your assistant pastor coming out)

The following is a list of phases that missionaries observed (you may have seen this) people go through over time in quarantine. It helps just to know so you think you’re not the crazy one feeling this way…as in “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man…” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Also so you can mention it without shame as well as ask for prayer.

Let’s continue to be in prayer for one another!

Here are are the phases as related to me by an unnamed missionary in China:

Phase 1: Anxiety – this is the time the family/individuals are most focused towards a common threat, the sole aim is to prep enough food and supplies to ensure the family’s physical needs are met with the uncertainty ahead. Fear is prevalent, and thus possibly more prone to violent and hostile behaviors based on survival instincts and concerns for families well-being.

Phase 2: Isolation – after awhile the reality of the quarantine, constant seclusion in residence and severed social networking hits hard with constant media dooms-day predictions, lack of information on what to do, etc. which causes stress and anxiety to escalate. Common issues we’ve observed are increases in anxiousness, conflicts/arguments, anger and/or violence.

Phase 3: Helplessness – uncertainly of when will it end makes people feel like life’s losing control. Continual fear of contagion, infection, illness and death cause stress and anxiety to increase exponentially. Shock, numbness, confusion, depression, grief, anger, and frustration results. For some they will be more prone to temptations of sinful behaviors and activities to escape, or an attempt to seemingly regain control in life. Great spiritual battles during this phase.

Phase 4: Hopelessness – with seemingly no end in sight individuals may start to act or think in extreme ways. Loss of faith in government, health institutions, and trust between peoples. More prone to conspiracy theories and believed to be treated unfairly (victim of unfairly distributed medical care and daily needs) and blame-shifting. Very prone to sins and temptations.

Not all people may go through all 4 phases, and some may even go forwards and backwards (phase 1 to 2 to 1 to 2 to 3 to 2 to 1). Reminder for us that at these tough times to keep a strong prayerful life, constant daily devotions with family members to minister to one another, and remind ourselves the Lordship of Christ and our daily reliance on Him and Him alone.

As the churches and Christian community prepping for the economical and physical effect the virus will have on us, let us not forget even when we are healthy physically one may not be healthy spiritually. Let us all pray and rely on Christ to carry our burdens through the storms ahead, and navigate us to the bright radiant sunshine of God’s glory.

Matteson Bowles, Assistant Pastor