In this time of fear and desperation, there are five things I sense God is encouraging me to do that are bringing me comfort and easing the sense of desperation that leads to panic. So, I thought you might want to hear them. They are:
ONE: be alert
Romans 12:11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (MSG)
The specific words that have come to my mind is for us to “be alert” or “keep alert”. I don’t sense this in terms of being fearful as if you’re about to get a blind side attack. I think this means to be as cheerfully expectant of what is about to do for the world through this tragic and confusing time. I think back to the creation when everything was chaos and in disarray. God’s Spirit hovered (or brooded) over the face of the earth and God began the process of separating this from that until the 7th day when it was all in order. So, I think He’s encouraging us to be alert to what He’s doing. Expect big things from our big God!
TWO: take a firm stand
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. (MSG)
I think that the words “stand firm” have come to me the most. Don’t let this time become a pity party that leads down the path of abandoning God and forgetting everything you’ve gained by your life in Christ. Now is not the time to sell out and become despondent but to continue to hold onto every shred of faith you’ve got.
THREE:Expect the unexpected
2 Corinthians 8:1-4 Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. (MSG)
The heart of the churches in Macedonia province can be our role model and cheerleaders who have gone through hard times too. But, the pressure they were under triggered something totally unexpected and that was an amazing outpouring of love and generosity. It is so easy to get into the thoughts that keep me focused in on myself and my own needs but the true Spirit of Christ is to be a servant to others and in doing so it fills the giant hole of desperation with a great satisfaction that others needs were met. Generosity in a time of being poor will bring others a kind of joy that can’t be bought or sold and it lessens the worries about self.
Not only should we expect the unexpected from others but also from God. He hasn’t run out of ways to bring new life or ways to encourage us. He isn’t in a state of panic or fear over all of this as if He doesn’t know what to do. He’s a great God and His overall plan is for life to flourish. He is not disheartened and He hasn’t run out of faith. He still is on His throne and no one will depose Him. Don’t let your feelings interfere with your faith in Him. Don’t let your panic run full tilt. This is the time to stand with Him and not stand in opposition to Him. He can handle the big twists and turns that the world takes.
FOUR: clean house
1 Peter 1:18-25 & I Peter 2:1-3 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, it’s beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. (MSG)
Now is a great time to clear out the old, dead stuff that isn’t working for you. You’ve accumulated a lot of baggage in the way you talk to the influences you allow access to your life. You let things influence you that really drag you down rather than lift you up. Get rid of the deadwood and embrace a clean inner house. Forward is the way you want to go so leave behind the things that call you back to the past. Even if they worked before and feel tried and true you’re going to need a new approach to the future. This virus is a game changer and the world will be moving to a new beat. Just make sure that you drip faith in Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead as being of vital necessity in your new and improved inner, spiritual home. He’ll keep you from running in circles and wearing yourself out. He’ll keep you from just beginning the process of packing new but unusable baggage to lug forward.
FIVE: get some mental rest
Colossians 2:2-4 I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.” (MSG)
This is a great time to get some rest by focusing in on Christ. Our minds are hardwired to tackle a problem by continually churning and spinning out new thoughts and ideas. We use our creative energy to problem solve. But, sometimes the answers don’t lie within us and no matter how creative we become we end up just spinning our wheels. This is when we need to back off of trying it our own way and letting Jesus take control. It feels contrary to what we know about getting our lives back on track but we need to allow our minds to rest and that is only done by focusing in on Jesus Christ. Hand Him the burden. Entrust the problem to Him. Lean on Him and rely on Him as your first and foremost vital necessity and then watch Him work it out for you.
This also might be a great time to take a break from watching dramatic or action movies and TV shows. It may be a great time to avoid reading books that rile up some passion within you that you have no way to express or resolve by being at home. In order for your mind to calm down and your mental focus to be centered on Christ, it might be worth the effort (and discomfort) of forgoing the things that work you up into a passionate frenzy. Taking on another fight in a time when you need your own dose of calm and clarity (even if it is just fictitious) may be a distraction that is worthy of casting aside.
In summary, with all that being said, I do get it that this is the time when I most want to control my life. I feel like everything is spinning madly out of control and I want to apply the brakes. That is why I am hoping that these five God-centered suggestions may help ease your tension and yet give you new hope in God at the same time.
Keeping the faith with you,
Coming to you from the middle of my own garden where God leads me every day to choose!