Being a teacher I believe I can confidently say that this year is testing everyone’s patience. We have had to forgo family time as we desire. Those who have lost loved ones – joining in their grief must be done safely from afar (this by far is the hardest to wish to hug & visit but need to find creative means of being there). Church has become reduced to being virtual. School is now online. Going to the grocery store is like the adult version of field trip. Politically we await to see whether the results of the election will turn the tide in an already divisive, contemptuous climate. Flu season has arrived ,and with it a surge in COVID-19 cases (although unrelated to flu season and probably due to so many asymptomatic carriers). Nonetheless we are all in a season of waiting! And we are in a season of being forced to see God’s sovereignty in action, being made to look for Him in ways we have not sought to before. If we fight the need to be still and know him more, we will hurt all the more. If we let go, we will find rest.
Finding creative ways to get together with friends, family and community has proved difficult (especially for the very cautious) beyond Zoom. However this source of great difficulty has also been a source of joy. How? The quiet, slow pace that has been forced upon us can serve to reveal our helplessness. For me, the awareness of my lack of control has been scary and life – giving at the same time. As God is teaching me more about letting go, this is where I have found his grace each day to do so a little more:
- “Self – Care” starts with God’s Word! Let me tell you this one right here is huge! For the past 5 years I have dealt with depression at the same time of year. I would not call it this but, those closest to me have noticed it & called it just that. The first time it was a coworker who told me my desire to only want to sleep – barely eating and lack of desire for all things I love including God’s Word – needed to be checked ASAP. Most recently it was my mom. It was five years ago that journaling & Bible journaling came to serve me in these seasons especially. To flip back through Scriptures & meditate on them; sometimes just reading over scriptures I have written down has served to remind me of God’s past faithfulness , of who He is ; and to reshape my mind, my thoughts. Our thoughts lead to actions. So wrong thoughts can lead us to perpetually be stuck in a cycle that is destructive to living for God. We cannot love God if we do not know Him. And we know Him through His Word. This is what must inform our thoughts. Take the command to love others for example: If I am more aware of wrong done to me by someone than I am of my sin & God’s love for me ultimately shown in sending Jesus ; I will undoubtedly allow the fears that resulted from that hurt drive me away from being loving to anyone who I feel places me in circumstances that cause me to hurt in the same way again. Feelings are fueled by our thoughts. The most important thing we think about is God, and we cannot have rightly informed thoughts about him without seeking him in his Word. The Bible tells us to renew our minds in Romans 12. There is not a mention of feelings. This is a mention of renewed thinking. Psalm 139 says, ” Search me, God, and know my heart , test me and know my concerns.” We can invite God to search our hearts & leave no nook uncovered! There is also a joy and a peace found in praying God’s promises back to him. I love Psalm 86! David’s prayers were bold and importunate but intimate and desperate. Afterall we learn to function as we were designed when we realize that “peace is not the absence of fear but the presence of God” (Tony Evans).
- Strength for persevering is bolstered by community. I went camping with a dear friend beginning of October. And we were able to encourage one another as two newly married sisters in Christ. It’s a joy to be able to shoulder one anothers burdens; to know we are not alone. The enemy would want believers to think that what they are experiencing – only they are experiencing, but this is a lie! We often isolate ourselves or are tempted to feel alone in our seasons of life and the new challenges that they bring which test our faith. However, we are told over and over again the importance of loving one another, admonishing, encouraging, stirring up, and bearing one anothers burdens. We help each other persevere in the faith when we testify God’s faithfulness in our lives and share His Word with one another. Seeing God work in the lives of other believers ought to renew our commitment to fight for holiness !
- Prayer is relational communication with God. I have had the privilege of writing for a devotional community called Within. And during my second submission, I was reading through Isaiah. Overall in Isaiah I was struck by the sovereignty of God and his mercy displayed throughout this major book of prophecy. I especially have been convicted & challenged with what it looks like to have faith that is uninhibited by the constancy of changing circumstances & trials. When I read Isaiah 37 – 38 and saw how Hezekiah cried out to God in prayer I was floored by the intimacy here. It is not that I am unaware that God is Abba, but that I so often forget this and relate in turn distantly and coldly. I have been reading Paul Miller’s Praying Life and in it he says, “anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.” God delights for us to pour out our concerns to him.
- Look for ways to be in awe of God; to grow in faith Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, “God works so that people will be in awe of him.” As we wait we can wait in hope knowing our God does all things well, and he will not forsake his name. I have begun to pray that God will leave me in awe of him as he works out his divine plan.
- Live in the Helplessness. This time is crushing the lie of self – sufficiency and revealing our utter need for God. We are helpless. And this is where I want to live : in the helplessness. I’m prone to want to be right. I want control. I want what I have prayed for when I pray for it. However, it is in my weakest, most helpless moments where I see my need for God all the more. It is in the waiting that I learn to have faith, to hope in the Lord, and cling to him more. Desperate, continuous prayer is the language of believers aware of their helplessness – coming to God heavy laden , weary and empty handed. This is how we live in the helplessness – we simply come, empty and broken, to commune with God our Abba Father and allow him to fill us up .