Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!
Register for a Free Account
Choose Password
Confirm Password

Your account has been created!

Physically Apart but Socially Connected

Physically Apart but Socially Connected

APRIL  8,  2020    |    4  MINUTE  READ    |    MICAH METZ

It was 11 pm, and my six-month-old daughter was being airlifted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The helicopter could only fit two passengers, including Maylin, so my wife rode with her. I was getting ready to make the three-hour drive alone. Just as I was beginning the trip, I got a phone call. It was my brother Nathan in Uganda.

We talked as my hands jitterily tapped the steering wheel. I had thought an energy drink would be enough to get me to Cincinnati, but what I really needed was this conversation. To be able to talk about Maylin’s situation. To talk about the grief that was already building within me. To laugh about dumb things. To have my brother on the phone. I didn’t realize until later how much he needed that too.

Earlier that month, Maylin had become extremely ill with symptoms that included non-stop seizures. Once we arrived in Cincinnati, the doctors diagnosed her with meningitis and told us to say our goodbyes. They were intubating her and didn’t know if she would make it out alive. As my wife and I sat in shock in the waiting room, all of our plans and hopes for Maylin’s future played through our minds. Whatever that future held now, we knew it would look very different from the one we had imagined.

Right now, many of us are confined to our homes to limit the spread of the coronavirus, each stuck in our own individual waiting rooms. Everything from weekend plans to weddings have been cancelled, and we’re reeling from the shock of a world that looks nothing like what we had hoped or imagined. More than a change of plans, though, I think what’s shaken us the most is social distancing. At a time when we want to process this situation together, we’re forced to be apart.

a photo of a woman staring out a window

While many of us are experiencing this separation for the first time, it’s nothing new to missionaries. In his MissionLife podcast, my brother Nathan states, “One of the greatest challenges of living overseas is being able to share in the grieving and comforting when sad things happen.” A few years ago, he and his wife made the decision to become global workers and move their family to a completely different continent, creating distance between themselves and their community of loved ones. They went knowing this change would come with challenges to staying connected and involved in our lives.

In those years, they’ve learned a lot, as I’m sure most global workers have. Staying connected doesn’t have to mean meeting in person. It could be calling your mom when you wish you could give her a hug. Sending your best friend a text message when you wish you could drop by his house. Video chatting with your grandparents so they can see your child learning to walk even though they can’t be physically present. If you’re not sure how to stay connected with your family and friends while practicing social distancing, ask a global worker. They’ve had practice navigating this while serving in their ministry location.

a photo of a smiling elderly woman facing a woman who is holding a phone with a photo of a baby on the screen.

Of course, another place we look for wisdom is Scripture. We can learn a lot about connecting with others from Jesus’ reaction to Mary after Lazarus’s death:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:33–36 NASB)

Jesus wept for a lost friend. He took time to be with His friends and comfort them. He made time during His journey to be with them and listen to their laments. Some of us are experiencing losses just like Jesus, Mary, and Martha. Some of our losses might look different but are still worth taking the time to grieve and process.

When my brother Nathan told his children about Maylin’s diagnosis, his daughter Sophie asked a question that I think applies to many of us right now: “How could God create trees and mountains and oceans, but He can’t help just one little girl?” Maylin survived her near-death experience, but she has special needs and requires a lot of attention and specialized care. My wife and I continue to grieve the future we had dreamed of for her and are still adjusting to this reality. We might not be able to understand why our all-powerful God chooses to allow certain things to happen, but we can take comfort in knowing He wants us to fall at His feet like Mary and share our hearts with Him.

photo of two men greeting with an elbow bump

It can be easy to allow social distancing to cut off our connection with others. But as many of us have been realizing these past few weeks, it’s simply a challenge to be more creative in the ways we reach out. We have so many technological tools for being present in each other’s lives—more than we’ve ever had before. Take time to process this situation with your community. Weep together if need be. Celebrate together. Send encouraging messages. Find ways to stay connected, whether you’re six feet or thousands of miles apart.


REACH OUT: Have the courage to reach out to people you might not in normal circumstances. If someone comes to mind, the Holy Spirit might want you to check on them.

LISTEN: Offer a listening ear to friends who might need to process the way their lives have changed. Avoid the temptation to fix their problems or encourage them to stay positive; instead, attempt simply to be present as they work through their emotions and thoughts.

PRAY: So many have been impacted by the coronavirus. Whether it’s a loved one, a job, or simply plans for the future, we’ve all experienced loss. Pray for those who are struggling to make sense of this situation, that they would turn to God, the source of all hope and peace.


Psalm 139
Proverbs 17:17
Romans 1:8–17
Romans 12:9–16
Galatians 6:2

MissionLife Podcast
Global worker Nathan Metz talks about life as a missionary in Uganda.
Listen on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

How to Connect with Loved Ones During COVID-19
Read this article for creative ways to keep connecting with others while social distancing.

Author Bio: Micah Metz is a son to two strong parents, a father of two loving children, a husband who’s deeply in love, and a brother to two amazing men; most importantly, though, he’s a Christian. Micah thanks God every day for the opportunity to use his creativity and love of story to help impact the world for Christ.

More Stories

Support a Missionary
Global Impact Fund
Advancing the Great Commission through your partnership.