Struggling to write today. If anyone reading this devotion doesn’t know, then let me tell you a little more about myself. I am a health care worker on the front lines at a major academic urban hospital in Richmond Virginia. Today, I saw my first covid-19 patient. As a professional, I am trained to deliver anesthesia as an advanced practice nurse (certified registered nurse anesthetist). However, with the cancellation of 70 percent of our surgeries due to the virus, we are now working to prepare our own ICU to care for covid patients when the surge occurs.
I wasn’t prepared for the reality of what I saw. Every day nurses and doctors see sick patients going through unimaginable illness and pain, but usually patients have family member by their side or receive a comforting touch or smile from a care giver. Covid-19 patients are and will be in complete isolation. What I saw today was a sick man sitting alone in his hospital room enclosed in glass like a wild animal. No curtains. Struggling to breathe. His nurses outside the door knocking on the glass encouraging him to sit and stay in bed. If he falls in the floor, there is nothing to be done right away. It takes at least two minutes to don your protective gear to reach him to help. A phone is used to converse, to limit the amount of times the nurse has to enter the room. Isolation, a complete and desolate hell.
God talked about isolation during illness in his word. There are explicit details how to quarantine the ill for skin diseases from Leviticus 13 through 15. These words are some how comforting to me as I read them. God provided for the ill even when they had to be isolated from their friend and family.
Leviticus 13: 45-46 states, “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, Unclean! Unclean! As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside of camp.”
And then in Leviticus 14 he gives instructions for those seeking purification after being ill. .
The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days. 9 On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair. They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
10 “On the eighth day they must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah[b] of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, and one log[c] of oil. 11 The priest who pronounces them clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and their offerings before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
Wow, does any of things ring true today? This skin disease described in these chapters was leprosy. Interesting fact, Moses own sister, Miriam was struck with leprosy. She had to undergo complete isolation from her family too. In Numbers 12: 13, we hear Moses crying out for his sister in prayer, ” O God, I beg you, please heal her!” And the Lord did, “Keep her outside the camp for seven days, and after that she may be accepted back”. Is it strange that this some how brings comfort to me? People throughout time have had to be isolated for healing. But our God welcomes us back. And I know for sure while you’re in isolation he will take care of you, just like he sent his angels to take care of Elijah and Jesus in the wilderness.
We must pray for our brothers and sisters today that are ill , just as Moses did. Pray for healing. Pray for comfort during their isolation. Pray that God is sending his angels to care for them while they are isolated in their own horrible wilderness of suffering.