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Quarantine is getting old. In many places, restrictions are beginning to lift, but it’s clear we’re nowhere close to returning to business as usual. In parts of California, the stay-at-home order is now expected to last through July.

I miss going to the beach. I miss traveling to see my parents. I miss hair appointments and sitting in a restaurant and walking mindlessly through a store.

I am fully aware of how superficial my wish list sounds in light of a pandemic. But I just wish the coronavirus would go away.

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The first six weeks of staying at home felt purposeful. We were working together to flatten the curve so we could return to normal life. While technically that still may be the case, the season of unknowns seems to be lengthening daily with reports that the crisis may not be resolved for two years or more. In the absence of actionable solutions and a clear blueprint of the future, feelings of hopelessness can set in.

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We may or may not take that long-planned summer vacation. Our children may or may not return to school in the fall. Will our church meet together again in 2020 or 2021?

Living in these uncertain times is exhausting. The new has worn off and many of us are in desperate need of a quarantine reset. Here’s are two things I think can help.

Settle in. During the past few months, I’ve been living in survival mode, missing my old life and doing everything I can to get back to it. With projections of “the worst being over” sometime next year, it’s time to adapt to the new normal and establish routines that will withstand months not days.

During the sixth century BCE, the Jewish people were exiled from their country and living in captivity. Their circumstances seemed bleak, and there was no way they could go back to their former lives.

With the novelty of quarantine long gone, we must find a new way forward. 

Through Jeremiah the prophet, God gave them this message: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce” (Jeremiah 29:5). Essentially, “keep living.” That solution is deceptively simple, but it requires an intentional choice.

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Live with purpose and hope. Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “We’re not moving past COVID-19, we’re learning to live with it.” For many, that’s a tough pill to swallow. With the novelty of quarantine long gone, we must find a new way forward.

And Jeremiah offers us this encouragement: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11). Even in prolonged seasons of adversity and unknowns, we can find hope. Instead of viewing the coronavirus as the end of something, maybe we need to view it as a starting point.

Every day my third-grade son, who is on the spectrum, tells me, “I want to go back to school.”

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“I know you do, Buddy,” I say. As much as I wish I could grant his request and right all that’s wrong in his little world, I can’t. That’s when I notice a grin spreading across his face.

“School is closed,” he says in a sing-song voice followed by a belly laugh. I pull him in for a hug and know he’s going to be OK. We’re going to be OK.

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