Quarantined, for His Purposes

Nautical flag for a Quarantined Vessel

5 “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

Psalm 139:5, NIV

There is a place where God quarantines you from the general population. This place is quite disconcerting and disrupting. You may not realize it, but He has placed us in seclusion for our own good. We will remain there until He decides to release us. We are not at liberty to serve as we wish.

Often our sin, and self-deception will be reason enough. King David writes of this place of being “hemmed’ in, and facing the world of separation. And indeed, it is isolated and detached, and without any real relief. You earnestly want to serve, but you’ve been blocked. You can’t minister the way you wish. Your gifting and opportunities are put on hold during this season.

Somehow, and in someway I want to encourage you. This is from His hand, and He has placed you:

  • in this moment,
  • for this time,
  • for His purpose.

You are not rejected, far from it. The Father only intends to separate you for a season until His purposes in you are completed. This is hard, and yet it is necessary. You are being detained for your own good.

Sometimes personal sin run rampant is the issue. Maybe you have tried to control yourself , but to no avail. The Holy Spirit will not utilize you until you will relinquish your sin. Here you sit on an edge, and that can be treacherous. You can’t minister from this place. Press into Romans 6 if you want His opinion on the matter.

Being quarantined is actually the best thing that could happen. Even though it is hard and seems unkind, it is actually a good thing. You are isolated until things of the heart are addressed and dealt with. Being “hemmed” in is challenging. You are confined for His purpose.

My heart is for you, I understand this moment. I suggest you embrace His work, and hang on to His will. He will use you, but in His time and place. He knows your heart to serve, and He will not stifle you in your gifting. But you must wait, rest, and cooperate. You must “walk by faith, and not by sight.”

20 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:20-21, ESV


The God Who Won’t Go Away, by Jonathan Coe

He never goes away– Never!

Martin Luther was right when he said that “the entire Bible is contained in the Psalms.” In the Psalms, we find the same God who we find in the rest of the Bible, who, despite our sins and weaknesses, stubbornly and relentlessly sticks with us–the God who won’t go away. This God was fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who said that he is with us always, even unto the very end of the world (Matthew 28: 20).

In contrast, human relationships are fragile. People, for a variety of reasons, do go away. Sometimes, as in the case of my father who passed away a little over a year ago, it has nothing to do with anything they did or didn’t do. His father (my grandfather) died when he was 13. My brother and my father’s firstborn named Cary, who was neurologically handicapped, went on to be with the Lord in his early 50s, ten years before my father would join him. My mother would die three and a half years before he would. My father was well–acquainted with the fact that people go away.

Sometimes people go away because of something we did or didn’t do. Over the years, I’ve heard some people confess that they feel like other people like them until they get to know the real them and then they go away. They have difficulty keeping friends who will love them warts and all. I’ve also seen marriages and friendships where one of the friends or spouses go through major changes and the relationship doesn’t survive in the aftermath. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall and can’t be put back together again. Someone goes away.

One human characteristic that the devil exploits is our tendency to project onto God flawed human qualities. The old joke is that in the beginning God created man in his image, and then, shortly thereafter, man returned the favor by creating God in his image. If the reader only gets one thing out of this post, let it be this: People may go away but God won’t go away. Please rest in his stubborn love.

Psalm 139:7–12 provides abundant evidence to that fact: no matter where we go, God is there. The Psalms are very comforting to me because God is there for David in every situation–in his ups and downs, virtues and vices, complaints and thanksgivings. David represents the human heart writ large and God will not forsake him. He commits egregious sins–adultery, lying, murder– but in his brokenness and repentance, God won’t go away.

So often, when we have it out with another person, someone goes away. Not God. David has it out with God over a variety of issues. He feels forsaken, complains about his enemies prospering, and questions God’s justice, but God is big enough to handle his darkest moments and stay with him. That’s one of the major lessons of the Psalms: God can handle the full fury of the human heart–it’s anger, desolation, questions, and despair– and not forsake that person unless he or she continually and willfully rejects and forsakes God for the rest of their lives. He doesn’t go away but we have a choice to go away.

Often when we have it out with God, in the aftermath, there is greater intimacy between us and the Lord. His ways are vindicated and we rest in his wisdom and mercy. This is much different than when we become embittered at God and our deep offence at him destroys intimacy. May we all guard our hearts against such bitterness and rejoice in the God who doesn’t go away.

If you liked this post from Jonathan, you may also like his new book, Letters from Fawn Creek, that can now be purchased at this link:


Letters from Fawn Creek


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