The Opposite Of Lockdown

Deborah DaSilva, Associate Campus Pastor, North Shore | April 18, 2024

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  
1 Peter 3:8

During the lockdown of 2020, I found myself isolated, comforting myself with tasty baked goods and Netflix binges. I doubt I am alone in this. But four years later, I’m calling into question any of these lingering “comfort” habits that no longer have a place in my life.  

My reaction to the lockdown may have been appropriate for that scary moment in history—indeed, the isolation was required by law—but the habit lingered too long, and we are seeing negative consequences in the mental health crisis of our kids (and adults) coming out of it. It seems that isolation and comfort-seeking are unhealthy in the long run.  

It doesn’t surprise me that the Bible speaks to this. We are meant for connection and empathy. We are called to the vulnerability of empathy and compassion and to tune our hearts to God’s—even when that’s uncomfortable. Nehemiah is a great example of this. He was safe living far away, but his heart was attuned to the heart of God and the plight of his people back in Jerusalem. So when he learned of the trouble in Jerusalem, his first actions were lamenting and prayer. He knew he had no control over their situation and that he himself could not change it—only God could. He went before God and was in the emotional distress his people must have felt. He didn’t rush through this process either. Nehemiah 1:4 says, “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before God.”  

Allowing ourselves to feel empathy can be painful. It is more comfortable to keep ourselves isolated from the pain of others, but God calls us to do it anyway.

Entering into the tribulations of others, as Nehemiah did with his people in Jerusalem, isn’t easy, but it is the call of 2024. Comfort is so 2020. And in the end, empathy can be a profound growing experience. It bridges the gap between individuals and fosters a deeper sense of connection.As Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”  And that’s a fantastic list of attributes I want this year.

Next Steps

As we enter Celebration of Hope 2024, we have the opportunity to choose to connect instead of isolate. We can open our eyes and stand in the uncomfortable space of compassion for our partners around the globe. We can challenge ourselves to dedicate time this week to praying for specific global partners and then join us in the Hungry for Hope challenge.