Isolation

Due to the pandemic, many in America and other parts of the world are living in isolation. As someone who has been living as a hermit due to ALS for more than twenty years, it didn’t take this pandemic for me to discover that living like a fugitive in a hideout isn’t good for you emotionally or spiritually. Living in isolation isn’t good for us physically, either. From what I’ve read, people are abusing food, alcohol, and drugs more often.

The Bible also tells us that isolation is not God’s plan for mankind. The first observation that God made after creating man was, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). He told Adam and Eve to be “fruitful and multiply.” God made us for fellowship with Himself and with others who are living for Him.

It didn’t take long for Adam and Eve to mess up God’s original plan. The very next chapter records the “fall of man.” Their disobedience introduced mankind to shame, fear, pain, sickness, blaming God and others for our wrongs, deception, spiritual and physical death, and hiding from God–the worst kind of isolation there is.

With a few exceptions, things went downhill from there. But then Jesus, “the second Adam,” came to show us how we can get everything back that the first Adam lost. He paired up His disciples and gave them the “Great Commission”:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus never sent one of His followers out alone, not even on a simple errand. The only instance I can find of a disciple going out alone is when Judas went to betray Jesus. The night Jesus was arrested, Peter was encircled by an angry mob and didn’t have another disciple with him. When pressed three times, he denied being a follower of Jesus. When a lion hunts, it tries to isolate a weak member of a herd. I wonder if Peter was thinking about that night as he wrote this:

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).

I didn’t attend church for three months after making a commitment to follow Christ in 1983. I still believed the “most Christians are hypocrites” lie. I was afraid that if I went to church, their hypocrisy might rub off on me. I set an all-time speed record for going from unworthy sinner to self-righteous hypocrite. Meeting in my small apartment, the Church of Me, Myself, and I wasn’t working out very well, and the pastor was not very good, either.

“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1).

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up…And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

The grandmother of a friend invited me to church and lunch after at their home. I agreed to go. Living in Texas, eleven hundred miles from my mother’s cooking in Illinois, the offer of a home-cooked meal was too good to pass up. I kept going back to that church and made many good friends, including my best friend, who I married thirty-five years ago this month.

There are hypocrites attending church, of course, but, from what I’ve observed, most of the people I used to classify as hypocrites are just churchgoers or sincere believers saying or doing something un-Christian. Regardless, the Great Commission is not merely for us to attend church, but for us to become disciples of Christ and to disciple others.

Because ALS has rendered me homebound, I haven’t been able to attend church in years. I miss going to church. Sadly, many of you now know what it’s like to be without your church family. With the death, economic destruction, political division, and the closing of churches and relief organizations, COVID-19 looks as if it was stirred together in a cauldron by demons over the flames of hell.

Where is God in all of this?

He is still on His throne. He is still assisting Christ’s disciples in fulfilling the Great Commission. And He is also working through them to meet the needs of the poor and suffering.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

I know it must sound crazy to those who are not followers of Christ, but many of us believe that we are living in the last days. As the above passage tells us, it’s vital for disciples of Christ to gather together and strengthen one another’s faith. The passage ends by telling us that this is even more important as we “see the Day drawing near.” You don’t have to be a theologian to figure out that “the Day” is Judgment Day.

It’s great to attend church, but, as we now know, this option can be taken away. In these difficult days, be intentional to surround yourself with strong disciples. With COVID, we might have to get creative and meet over Facetime, Skype, or Zoom. You don’t need a large group; two or three will do.

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20).

(Friends, I have been AWOL from the blogging world the last month or so. I have missed interacting with you. I have been dealing with breathing and exhaustion issues. As most of you know, I type with an eye-tracking computer. I’ve discovered that I have to keep my eyelids open for the computer to work :-)).

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with ALS. The neurologist gave me 3-5 years to live. 24 years later... :-) I'm completely paralyzed and unable to speak. By God's grace and the great care of my wife, I'm still here. I live to encourage and give hope to others going through difficult times.

Posted on November 23, 2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. Don’t know how I missed this one. Merry Christmas forever to you and your family, my friend!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am so glad I read this! You really explained our need to assemble with other Christians well. I am so sorry to hear about your exhaustion. I am praying.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Bill. Great to hear from you again. Always blessed and inspired. I’m using one off your thoughts. I was riding my wheelchair when one of the motors failed. With two motors you can steer the chair but with one it openly goes around in circles. Thanks for what you say and who you are my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “Where is God in all of this? He still sits on His throne.” So simple and yet so profound. I want to keep that etched in my memory. Thank you, Bill. You and Mary are really on heart and mind lately. I’m sending up many prayers for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Yes we do feel as you do and have staying at home is hard. We are at the age that they warn us to stay at home. Unless we have a Dr. appointment we stay at home. We did not celebrate Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren, the stocking are all hung, 17 total for the family, and we are praying that we can be together for Christmas. Our church was open until just two Sundays ago. We had outdoor services August, September and October two weeks and then inside. Now we are closed down so listen on the radio or computer. We will get through this. I am a product of a pandemic, Polio, 72 years ago, so I know how scary this is. At the time of 6 months I had no idea. I just trusted my parent to take care of me. So I am staying home to not get sick. Hope you feel better soon,.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear precious Bill and Mary,
    I am sending so much love to the two of you. You don’t know me unless Heidi Viars has talk to you about me, as I work on Moody Radio. I have been following you for a long time and every morning and every night I pray for you and Mary. Thank you so much for your sense of humor and your faith and your perspective and your determination. You lift me always by your posts and I’ve told many people about you. I hope and pray that the comments that you read encourage your heart and make you feel loved which you very much are, both of you.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Hi Bill. I am late in reading your post, and have missed you. I do trust you are regaining strength, and your eyes are able to wander the keyboard regularly again.
    As many others have commented, your posts are encouraging and enlightening, and greatly appreciated.
    Our church is open, to 30% capacity, but due to my health condition we are not attending, and do miss the fellowship. The service is on fb, but that is not the same. I can’t appreciate the worship in song near as much, because I sure don’t want to hear myself sing.
    I thank God for you and your writing, along with our friend Terri, when she is able to write.
    During this COVID, I cannot get out in public much, and was getting down a bit, and having a little pity party. Holy Spirit brought you and Terri to mind, and I am so thankful. Each of you are so uplifting, God is using both of you powerful.
    During those few days, I continued reading the Word, but it was habitual. Once Holy Spirit spoke to me, referencing you and Terri, I began to get meaning, and meat and potatoes from God’s Word again.
    Thank you Bill, keep up Great Commission work, including discipleship.
    You and wife Mary are certainly special servants of our Lord. God Bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Good post as always! Praying for you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Bill,

    I hope you get some wonderful fellowship time over the holidays. Let’s see what the Lord has planned. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    In Christ,

    Gary

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a strange year. This has taught us many creative ways to communicate and express love for others. I think I’ve prayed harder for government this year than ever. To release their grip. Happy Thanksgiving to y’all!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Beautiful blog, Bill! Thanks so much. I agree with everything you said … and you said it so well! I know that writing your blog has its challenges, but thank you for pressing on because it is a real blessing to me and to many others.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thank you Bill. I pray you and Mary and the rest of your family have a blessed Thanksgiving. You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It was such a great thing for me to hear from you today. Things have been difficult and I have been too needy. I am not the only one suffering from life changes. Thank you for this post and God keep you in His hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for sharing this much needed and inspiring message Bill, Good to see you back on deck.
    Love in Jesus to you and Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great post. You are always so positive in spite of the challenges. I am on palliative care now and living with my daughter and her husband. Family is so important in times like this. When the hospital bed was delivered for me, they asked when they could pick it up again. My daughter laughed and said, ‘she’s had ALS for fifteen years, so probably not soon,” I pray for strength for you every day. The Joy of the Lord is our strength, so Lord, keeping pouring joy into Bill every day. Blessings on you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. You are an inspiration. Keep spreading His word and hope. Blessings to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, Bill. Your words are so encouraging to us. Yes, we must continue to gather together.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A beautiful message Bill. Encouraging and filled with love.
    It is inspiring to read. Grateful for you and Mary.
    Happy thanksgiving my friend!
    Don

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You are one of the best teachers I have ever heard! Bill, what comes out of your heart is like a rare gem. Maybe because it is held inside to season and tumble. Maybe it’s the adversity that wears the rough edges off and makes it smooth as silk and honey to the taste.
    Maybe it’s because you and Mary are such special people because you have come to understand the true value in life and have let go of the small petty things. Maybe I just see Jesus when I look at you!
    I praise God for your ministry in my life. You calm me, quiet the sea and humble me.
    Have a wonderful anniversary and a blessed Thanksgiving! I love you guys 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s so good to hear from you again. I always worry, when you’re gone for a while, that you’re fighting illness again. You are SO right about our need for each other. Satan celebrates every time a church closes its doors, even if it’s only temporary. Google reports a huge uptick in searches on anxiety, depression, spousal abuse, alcohol and drug abuse etc. People need each other, and we all need God.

    Let’s pray together that the virus will wear itself out, and the churches will open their doors again.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. You’ve been missed! You are such a blessing and a great encourager. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jack & Peggy Lesch

    Your words are ALWAYS a blessing of encouragement to us !!!

    Like

  23. So glad you are regaining the energy to keep your eyes open so you can keep inspiring us, your readers! / I am so thankful for our church staff who are working hard and creatively to keep our congregation strong and connected during this year of upheaval. For example, in October the women still held their fall retreat, but the Saturday activities took place in five parks around the city. That way outdoor social-distancing could be observed. / I agree with you, Bill, and the many others who believe the Day may be drawing near. Just think: we may meet in the air on our way to be with the Lord!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Another inspiring post. I’m happy for every day that you can open your eyes (to allude to a song), for I know that you want to see Jesus more clearly. Thank you.

    Like

  25. You are always an inspiration to me! Praying your breathing issues will improve. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Like

  26. I’ve been thinking of you and looking forward to your next blog post. Praying you are feeling better.

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  27. Thank you, Bill. The Lord knows exactly when to open your eyes so that we, too ,may see what you see. Love and blessing and more blessings for you, Mary, and your family. Will you see your children and grandchildren this week? We’re waiting for another clearance for one of our grandchildren. Since Lee and her husband and two of the girls have had the virus, the other girls are constantly around those who have tested positive. The Lord is gracious in protecting me. Praise Him for His goodness and company. We continue to remember Jesus’ words, “I am not alone, my Father is with me.”

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hi Bill. I love this post. As you know you have been a constant force of encouragement and inspiration … you strip away my excuses and I take the next step. I had wondered how you were and will continue to pray for you. Seeing you know who Tuesday night (Wednesday afternoon our time). 💝

    Like

  29. Bill and Mary y’all inspire me more than words can say! Thank you that even though it isn’t easy for you to express your thoughts you press on anyway. I am thanking and praising God for you and Mary. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Bernadette Pfeiffenberger

    Thank you for your post today, Bill. I noticed last week you hadn’t written for a while. Prayed the Lord’s covering and favor has been surrounding you and your family. For eight years now, the Lord has called me into a very quiet and silent place with Him. It has not been without struggles on my part. We do not always do well in the quiet places God calls us to. But, the intimacy gleaned from waiting and trusting Him in all He calls us to do is turning into a blessing. Your life is reflective of the Great Commission God has called us to. Your are a true blessing! God’s blessing and peace for you and your family.

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  31. Thank you, Bill, for another wonderful message. Thank you so much, as I know the work and effort you have to do to be able to send these to us is not easy, God Bless You for doing so. I also know the struggle of being homebound, more and more these days associated with my Crohn’s disease, but my blessing is that my church is now on Facebook and I still can attend virtually. I also go to a larger church virtually in town and then I also visit my mom and dad’s church with them virtually too! What a blessing it has been for me to attend all of these from my house! It is not quite the same though, I know, in-person is so much more fulfilling, but I must say, I am loving this part of it. I virtual Wednesday night also and have been doing a Women’s ministry on Thursday nights. I’ve never been so involved as I am now. I hope I have the courage to attend in person after COVID is over, can’t wait to feel the love and God’s presence where we gather. I wish you, Mary and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you again for your loving care of us, and I keep you and Mary in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. It has been tough not being able to attend church. Worshipping at home just isn’t the same. The only option is to dive into God’s Word so we are that much more prepared when the doors open back up! God Bless, and thank you for your uplifting words!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Where is God during Covid or not is always a goid question. All time favorite. Thanks, Bill. I love your sense of humor in the end. Keep your eyelids open, tee hee. That line for me is where God is.

    Like

  34. What a blessing this post is and so uplifting as well. Your faith is very encouraging. My husband and I have been doing FaceTime church as many don’t wear masks and I feel like we can sing, pray and learn the word from home safely. There are hypocrites in everything and organizations and there are at church too, I am sure. It is not my job to judge but to keep my eye on God and Jesus right now more than ever. He is still in charge. Thank you so much for your lovely post. Blessings to you and prayers for your breathing issues. Love and blessings, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I could not agree w/ you more, Bill. We need God and we need one another. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22: 37-40).

    May He continue to give you strength and length of days.

    Your friend,

    A. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Such an encouraging and wise post, Bill! Blessings to you this Thanksgiving and always!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Welcome back Bill, so glad you are feeling better. Your blog is spot on, so many people suffering from the isolation. Happy Thanksgiving to our beloved Texas Sweeney’s , who we are so thankful for. Love you guys

    Like

  38. Revival is happening, and I hope reformation is coming to the church. God bless, and thanks for a great post. Stay strong in the Lord!

    Like

  39. Rebecca Turner Gonzales

    Thank you for this wisdom and reminder dear, sweet Bill. ❤

    Like

  40. You know, your company (and Mary’s) has been one of the greatest treasures to me. How is it God can make a man who can’t leave his room and can’t speak a sweet company to others? I suppose it’s because He is never hindered by any of the things that hinder us, like COVID 19 and ALS (and the innumerable ails of this world). He has overcome it indeed. Thank you for your love and reminders, Bill. You are a treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Bill, I am always amazed at what you do . I don’t understand the wonderful technog that you use but by you being blessed with it you bless us. Thank you! Prayers for a safe Thanksgiving for you and your family.

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  42. Bill, you are such a blessing! I hope that you sense a kind of fellowship in the blogging community, as so many of us benefit from your writing, and I hope ours can be a blessing to you, as well. While there’s no substitute for being together, face-to-face smiles, voices, and hugs, I know with God’s help there are connections made here every day. I look forward to meeting you – here, there, or in the air – and meanwhile, I am enjoying your words of wisdom.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
    In Christ,

    Annie

    PS Interesting what you said about Judas being the one disciple who went out on his own. I had never stopped to think about that. That should be a red flag to any of us who find ourselves launching out on our own, that maybe we should rethink our plan.

    Liked by 5 people

  43. Such a thoughtful, uplifting, and encouraging post Bill! With your permission, I’d like to use some of this in a message. Your post ought to be read from every pulpit this coming Sunday!

    I thank the Lord for you Bill. I continue to tell people about you and your blog. What a living testimony you are of the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mary, and your entire family!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. I love your persistence and perseverance in choosing to blog with such dedication and passion–and weary eyeballs! I understand the Church of Me, Myself, and I–it feels safe in the moment, but that is a lie from the enemy. I think part of the reason it’s easy to see the hypocrisy in others is that I see it so clearly in myself. Pointing fingers is easier than forgiving–or in seeing that people aren’t the enemy. Congratulations to you and Mary on 35 years of partnership that has become so much more than either of you anticipated. But the two of you are a gift to so many. I’m grateful for how you two minister to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Bill, it’s always so nice to hear from you. Your posts are always such a blessing and encouragement to me, not to mention very timely! I desperately needed to hear this today – I woke up today feeling like I’m at the end of my rope, and then your post shows up and I’m lifted out of this pit. Thank you Bill. I will continue to pray for comfort and strength for you and your family and may your breathing problems and exhaustion ease up for you. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Brother Bill, we are so glad to hear from you! Thank you for such encouragement here. Having stepped back from church, and having Bible studies in my home, I see more clearly how churches have become such a business.
    We have “church” in my small apartment, and even Communion, with a meal as the disciples did. (Well, maybe the disciples didnt have rice and beans or curry chicken but the point is a fellowship meal, right? 🙂)
    I want to live out Gods ways as much as we can. You and Mary are a faraway but so beloved and appreciated. Send our love to Mary…❤
    Thankful and grateful for brethren like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Amen!! Thank you for another inspiring post. I had never thought about the disciples always going out together, never alone. Thank you for that perspective and encouragement. God bless you & Mary and the rest of your family. Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

    Liked by 4 people

  48. Thank you! I always love hearing from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. As always, I treasure reading what you write.
    Thank you for sharing things from your perspective.
    Keeping you in my prayers.
    Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Bill, I am always encouraged by your posts. This is very uplifting for all of us to know we are not alone when we have a relationship with our Savior. I have an awful singing voice, But when I sing to the Lord I never sing alone, He, His angels and Father God almighty join in with my voice. Hallelujah! God bless you and your wife and family. I thank God for you. Blessings, Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Annette Converse

    Bill,
    As always, thank you for the encouraging words.
    Looking forward to heaven.
    Annette 🙏🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  52. God love you Bill, I was just thinking of you and BOOM …. there you are! Loved that comment about having to keep your eyes open in order for the computer to work. And of course, your exhortation for us all to “press forward”! Praying that the breathing and exhaustion issues have passed and you are returning to your jovial self. “Steady as she goes” is another thought that frequently crosses my mind, stay close to our Shepherd and lift up the flock as opportunities present themselves, which you frequently do. Tell Mary I asked her to give you a hug for me and as always, you and Mary and your family are in my prayers daily. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  53. It was good to see a post from you, Bill. Take good care.

    Liked by 2 people

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