Surviving Isolation: 6 Examples From Church Heroes

Painting of Joseph Smith sitting in jail

Social distancing, isolation, and quarantine are not always fun. COVID-19 has forced most of us into an involuntary isolation from the world. Many people feel like they have had their freedom stripped from them with these orders to stay home.

While this may seem unfair, it is important that we try to make lemonade out of lemons. These scriptural examples show us that isolation and quarantine have the ability to bring us closer to God when we have nowhere to go.

Joseph Smith

Joesph Smith praying in isolation.
Joseph Smith Praying on his knees.

The prophet Joseph was imprisoned many times during his time as the living prophet. When he was imprisoned in Liberty Jail he wrote many of his feelings, experiences, and prophecies down in his letters. How grateful we are today that Joseph did this so that we can look back on it.

One way to follow this example is to write down your current experiences with isolation for future generations to look back on. For all we know, it could help when they face another pandemic in the future.

Related Link: 175 Years Ago Joseph Smith Was Dragged to Jail Again. What Happened Next Could Be Called A Miracle!


Moses in isolation on mt. sinai.
Moses holding the 10 Commandments.

When Moses went up onto Mount Sinai he was there for 40 days. During this time, the Lord did some of His most amazing work by delivering the Commandments and instructing Moses. The Lord put boundaries upon this mountain and set it apart as a holy place.

This sanctification resembles the setting apart of a temple today. While all of our temples are currently closed due to COVID-19, President Russell M. Nelson said in the April 2020 general conference, “Please use this time when temples are closed to draw upon the power of your temple covenants.”


Noah's Ark sailing in isolation.
Noah’s Ark.

For 40 days and 40 nights the earth flooded. The story of Noah’s family in isolation on the ark is remarkable considering that they remained on the ark for about a year. I’m sure this family spent time praying, fasting, learning about each other, and caring for animals. The family was carried safely through the flood on their ark built with faith and trust in the Lord.

Every member of Noah’s family had to have the faith to get on the boat, knowing that they may not be getting off for a while. They were kept safe because of their faith and obedience to God’s word.

But remember the end of the story. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a rainbow appeared, helping them to know that all would be made well again. This story is one that we can draw hope from.


Paul writing in isolation
Paul in Prison. Copyright Intellectual Reserve.

The books of Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon, and Colossians were all written by Paul while he was on house arrest in a hired house in Rome for two years. Throughout Paul’s ministry, he spent a total of about 5 years in jail. 2 1/2 of those years were in a physical prison cell while the rest was spent under house arrest in various locations. Needless to say, he was often isolated.

So, while Paul was in isolation, he wrote some of the most famous letters in history. Because we can’t leave our homes, we should strive that we stay in touch with those we love using modern technology and maybe even the old fashioned letter.


Jesus washing Peter's feet.
Christ and Peter at the Last Supper.

While in Mamertine Prison, the story goes that a spring burst in the basement so that Peter was able to perform baptisms for those imprisoned with him in Rome. This was the last prison that Peter was put in before he was eventually crucified. Even up until the end of his life, and while being confined to a small space with a few others, Peter still focused on spreading the Lord’s gospel.

This is a great time for us to share the gospel with those around us. While other churches are currently closed and we are in isolation, our home-centered curriculum allows us to share the gospel with our friends at this time when they need it most.

Related Link: How Did Each of the Original Twelve Apostles Die?


Savior in Isolation at Gethsemane
The Savior at Gethsemane. Image via

In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ must have truly felt isolated. We know that the Father sent an angel to be with Christ during this time of sorrow and it is important that we remember that Christ is always by our side when we struggle. Just last week we celebrated Easter where we prepared ourselves by reading about Holy Week and the atoning experience had by the Savior.

Now more than ever we are reminded that Christ knows what we are experiencing when we feel isolated. He is here to heal and uplift us through this time of trial.

Who have you drawn inspiration from during your COVID-19 social isolation and/or quarantine? 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.