Quarantine, Regret, and the Gospel

I’ve come to the difficult conclusion that I’m not happy with my response to the “quarantime” that began in March.

It’s difficult because it’s always difficult to admit that you’re wrong. It’s doubly difficult because it’s done; there’s no fixing it or trying again next time. Lord willing, there will never be another such event in my lifetime. 

So what do I do with these regrets and feelings of failure? What Christians should always do, in any situation—run to Jesus. 

Regretting Sinful Attitudes

I regret spending so much time being angry. I was angry at the virus for existing, angry at the government for restricting me, angry that I had to wear a mask, angry at people for wearing their masks wrong, angry that my son’s newborn months were stolen, angry at other people for not reacting how I thought they should.

This regret is hard because I have to label it what it is: It’s sin. I sinned.

My anger is a sin against God, a challenge to his goodness and wisdom. It has also hurt those around me, both those on the receiving end and those who I’ve inflicted my anger upon by dwelling on it in conversation. 

The solution is repeated throughout the Scriptures: Repent. “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13b; see also 1 John 1:9).

For me, repentance has looked like making apologies and seeking reconciliation. It’s been praying for a more content and gracious heart. And it’s been praying for the Spirit to “see if there be any grievous way in me” (Psalm 139:24). 

Guys, it hurts. I hoped I could say, “I was angry and I’m sorry,” and be done with it, but my anger was just the shoot springing up from a root system of sinful attitudes that are still being exposed. 

This is the gospel: That when I was still angry, Christ died for me. That when I confess, he will forgive—and that he has given me his Spirit to convict me of my sin, drive me again to the cross, and empower me to live rightly. 

Regretting Missed Opportunities

I also regret not mobilizing to help my neighbors. I didn’t inquire whether my elderly neighbors needed groceries, didn’t seek out ways to help the needy, didn’t reach out to people in my own church family to ask how they were doing. I wish I had been Christ’s hands and feet to those outside my home, but I wasn’t.

Maybe you’re like me, and you feel the weight of missed opportunities. You didn’t help that person, didn’t finish that project, didn’t take that online course or master a new hobby during self-isolation. 

Good deeds left undone can be a sin of omission, in which case repentance is appropriate. But every Christian is not called to do every good work. Discerning between a sin of omission and a closed door of opportunity is a matter of wisdom and your conscience. 

In my case, I am confident in my conviction that I did not sin. I had a baby the day Governor Wolf declared a state of emergency. I was physically recovering, barely sleeping, and parenting my toddler. While serving the neighbors outside my home would have been a good thing to do, there was plenty of service and self-sacrifice to be done for the tiny neighbors in my own home. Nevertheless, I regret leaving so much undone.

The good news of the gospel is that, in Christ, you are already as loved and valued by God as you possibly could be. You don’t need to seize every opportunity, do the most good deeds, or be your best self to impress him or earn status in his eyes. Because God is already pleased with you, you can be gentle to your own heart. In a pandemic-themed issue of ByFaith Magazine, Kelly M. Kapic encourages discouraged believers to apply God’s kindness to themselves.

On the other hand, the gospel also frees us to do more and sacrifice more, because we follow a Lord who sacrificed all the way to death, then proved by his resurrection that even dying is only a stepping stone to glory.

In Christ, I am released from guilt over opportunities not taken. And, while I can’t repeat the last eight months, it’s not too late to love my neighbors.

Photo credit

Links for the Weekend (10/11/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Two Habits of Successful Parents

Tim Challies writes about two trends he has noticed in parenting: “young parents aren’t asking seasoned parents for input or assistance” and “seasoned parents are reluctant to address concerns or offer assistance.” He offers some reasons why this might be and then suggests two habits that would be good for young parents in our churches to adopt.

There are few tasks you will undertake in life that are more important than raising children. It is an incredible honor that God allows us to create, birth, and raise other human beings made in his image. With this incredible honor comes great responsibility. You’re unlikely to fulfill this task well, or as well as you could have, without the input of the community God has given you. So take advantage of it! Learn to implement these basic habits of successful parents.

Wisely Handling the Book of Proverbs

Ligonier has published a nice introduction to Proverbs written by R.C. Sproul.

So, the book of Proverbs is concerned to give us practical guidelines for daily experience. It is a neglected treasure of the Old Testament, with untold riches lying in wait in its pages to guide our lives. It holds real, concrete advice that comes from the mind of God Himself. If we want wisdom, this is the fountain from which to drink. He who is foolish will neglect this fountain. He who is hungry for God’s wisdom will drink deeply from it. We need to listen to the wisdom of God so that we can cut through the many distractions and confusions of modern life. But, as with the entirety of the Word of God, we need to be zealous to learn how to handle the book of Proverbs properly.

Christian Reflections on Anger

Here are 8 theses on anger by David Qaoud, who recently preached on the topic.

Want to know your idols? Show me your unrighteous anger. Whenever you get angry, as I believe I heard Tim Keller once say, you should ask what you are defending. Your pride? What others think of you? Most unrighteous anger comes down to an aspiration to be sovereign over the universe, to have others stroke your ego. The next time you get angry over something silly ask yourself why you’re getting angry. Look closely, and you just might find something that you’re banking on for your identity.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article by Sarah Wisniewski called The Incarnation of Aaron. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (9/13/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

A Letter to a Reader about the Battle against Sin

I would guess most Christians have wrestled with this question as they walk with the Lord. And Barry York provides an excellent, short answer. Here’s the key question.

How can someone know if they are a legitimate Christian struggling with sin versus an unbeliever in sin? And what should a Christian struggling with sin do when he feels defeated?

How to Kill Your Anger so You Can Represent Christ to the World

How do you respond to anger from others directed at you? How do you respond to your own anger? Amy K. Hall helps us with sound advice from the Bible. We are not to fight anger with more anger.

Lest anyone think all anger must be expressed in order for one to be “healthy,” it’s important to note that ignoring your anger is not the same thing as fighting and killing it, though both are attempts to avoid expressing that anger against others. The first will only cause the anger to build up until you can’t ignore it anymore. The second dispenses with it in a way that glorifies God and respects the people around you.

God’s Sovereign Plans Behind Your Most Unproductive Days

In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper answers a question from a listener who struggles with efficiency in her life. Piper works through an imaginary scenario—and then two passages from the Bible—to show us how God’s purposes may frustrate our desire for efficiency. Have a listen or read the transcript here.

Then walk in the peace and freedom that, when it shatters on the rocks of reality (which it will most days), you’re not being measured by God by how much you get done. You’re being measured by whether you trust the goodness and the wisdom and the sovereignty of God to work this new mess of inefficiency for his glory and the good of everyone involved, even when you can’t see how.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (2/15/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Encouragement for Regular Bible Reading

Over at For The Church, Trevin Wax addresses this important question: “What keeps so many Christians from regularly studying the Bible?” His video answer is filled with wisdom and encouragement to think about the long term benefit of our Bible reading and Bible study disciplines.

7 Tips for Keeping Your Cool When Your Kids Misbehave

I wish I didn’t need this advice, but I do. At the Crossway blog, Sam Crabtree offers some advice for avoiding an explosion of anger when children misbehave.

So, you’ve blown your stack. You admit it. You confess your wrongness to all involved parties. You apologize, asking forgiveness. And you resolve to not be that way again, to not do it again. But there’s the problem. The resolve of our own nature will fail. We need supernatural enablement for change. Overcoming anger requires something humanly impossible, something supernatural. The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for all kinds of people—including angry parents—to be changed into people who yield their expectations to God in service to others, specifically their children.

Sharing Your Faith at Work

Here’s a short article brimming with wisdom. Greg Forster first counsels us to “earn the right to be heard.” He then shares three practical tips. Here’s the second one.

Be patient. Earning the right to be heard takes time. You should not expect evangelistic opportunities quickly. Trust that as you labor faithfully, God will use your track record of excellent performance and humane treatment of people to awaken the hearts of those around you. I have a relative who came to Christ after her retirement; she became convinced Christ was alive after reflecting on decades of seeing Christians do their daily work so differently.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Pastor Don Waltermyer’s article about killing sin. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here.