Panic, fear, and anxiety are running rampant in our world right now. Most people are doing the best they can with limited information during this “rapidly changing situation”. We’ve all heard the gloom and doom but what I’d like to share with you is a different perspective. When we see or hear things through the lens of fear it distorts our perspective. It’s hard to wrap our heads around what the world is going. Through Jesus we can introduce them to having hope instead of panic and fear.
I hope you will find encouragement here. My desire is that you will take your newfound encouragement, give God praise, then inturn do what you can to spread hope, encouragement, and loving-kindness to those around you.
Does God Protect His People?
Since this virus began, I’ve heard many Christians say they won’t get sick because they are standing on Psalm 91. They say this Psalm proves that God won’t allow plagues (illness), danger or destruction to come upon His people. But is that true? No, I’m sorry. It’s not. What Psalm 91 says is that if we go to God, abide (stay) next to him, and seek all that we need from him, He will be with us and not forsake us.
As much as I want to tell you otherwise, God never promised an illness-free or trouble-free life.
For Additional Reading: How To Trust God When Bad Things Happen
Now, before you tell me I’m wrong, think about Job. He was a holy, righteous man. He knew Scripture, prayed continually, and stood on faith. He lost his family, business, home, and health (he was covered in boils…a plague). Yet, God did not forsake Job.
Before you tell me that Job was an anomaly, think about the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis. His trouble and torment lasted years despite his knowing Scripture, standing on faith and being a man of God. And yet, God did not forsake him. I’m sure some of the blessings Joseph received weren’t visible to him until he was able to look back on his life.
Before you tell me those two examples were Old Testament and have nothing to do with us today (which is completely untrue), think about the apostles. They were starved, ridiculed, beaten, burned, betrayed, jailed, and faced things we can’t even begin to imagine. Even with the pandemic, we have a rather cushy life compared to what the apostles had to endure. Friend, they were the early church and yet they suffered! Still, God did not forsake them.
I could go on and on with biblical examples here. But the point is, trouble will come at us even though we are children of the King. Hardship doesn’t mean God loves you any less or has washed his hands of you and walked away. What has been intended for harm God will use for good (Genesis 50:20). It rains on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45) but both display God’s glory and majesty. How could we have one without the other?
So where is our hope during all this panic? What makes our lives different than that of the rest of the world?
We Are A People Set Apart
Many things may feel out of your control right now but we are not. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us and He has blessed us with a measure of self-control. Yes, we can control ourselves. Why does it matter? Because as a child of God we aren’t to behave as the world behaves.
Yes, we might have fear and anxiety. It is one of the tools the enemy of our soul loves to use against us. It’s not something we need to beat ourselves up about though. God addresses fear a multitude of times in his Bible. It is how we handle ourselves during trials and tribulations that mark us as a people set apart. We are to set ourselves apart by our thinking, actions, and speech.
Our belief or unbelief starts with our thoughts. Your mind is so powerful that what a man thinks he becomes (Proverbs 23:7). If you don’t believe God will take care of your family then your actions (and words) will reflect that unbelief. If your thoughts are snarky, you will treat those around you unkindly. From our thoughts flows our actions.
There is no getting around the fact that this virus and all the resulting issues are ugly. Obsessing over it isn’t helping anyone. When the scary thoughts begin to swirl in your mind, you have to deliberately replace them with the Word of God. Force yourself to think about the good, lovely, and praiseworthy things you see and hear (Philippians 4:8). It will take some effort but God’s peace is so worth it!
How are you spending your time? Is the majority of your time on the airwaves (TV, phone, computer, radio) or with God (Bible, prayer, and fasting) and your family? I get that you probably have a job outside the home and that is where you spend the majority of your day. But outside of the hours you owe your boss, you have choices to make. Instead of scanning social media on your lunch break how about you read your Bible on your phone? How are you treating others? How are you spending your evenings and weekends?
Nobody is perfect but we must let our loving-kindness be evident to all. Jesus said people would know we are his children because of the way we love and treat each other (John 13:35, 1 John 4:20). Not sure what that means for you in practical terms? The crowds were wondering this very question. Jesus replied that if you have 2 coats or extra food you should share with those in need (Luke 3:11).
Being generous and sharing what we have is the Christ-like thing to do, even during these turbulent times.
If someone who didn’t know you heard you speak, would they recognize that you were a Christian? Are you repeating the world’s gloom and doom? Are you striving to speak God’s hope, peace, and love? God’s words have unlimited power to change what we cannot change ourselves.
By the way, this pandemic is a fantastic reason to practice memorizing Scripture! Flavoring our speech with God’s word is such a critical thing to do that Jesus regularly repeated Scripture as he was talking with others. Maybe we should do the same.
Come on you guys. Let’s stop slamming others for the choices they are making. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s choices, their choices are on them and they will have to answer to God. Their choices aren’t your business. Our words can tear apart and wound or they can be soothing and healing as they point to the source of our hope. (Proverbs 18:21)
The Beginning of Birthing Pains?
God was not caught off guard with the current situation we are in. Unfortunately, I think most of us were. I know I was. But to be honest, I don’t know why. God uses his Bible to warn us (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 and Revelation 16:15) and Matthew 24:8 says the world will go through birthing pains leading up to the end of times. The information was there, I guess I just chose to pretend it wouldn’t apply in my lifetime.
It has been 25 years since I have experienced pregnancy pains. It’s true that as time goes on you forget the changes your body goes through. Watching my daughter-in-law prepare for the birth of our precious Elijah, I am reminded how birth pains prepare our bodies. The closer she gets to Eli’s birth the greater her pain and the more she desires to clean, organize, and get her house in order. She isn’t doing it because she has limitless energy. God gave her this desire so she would be ready when He calls Eli forth.
As a Christian, you can choose to see this pandemic like a birthing pain, a warning to prepare and get ready, and look deep within yourself. Take this time apart from others to clean and prepare your house (yourself) inside and out (Matthew 23:26). How are you doing spiritually? Who are you trusting? Where is your hope? Are there things you need to repent and turn away from? Are there areas you have grown lukewarm about and need to seek the Holy Spirit for a renewed fire?
Even if this is the beginning of the end I am still responsible for myself and you are still responsible for yourself. We don’t want to be caught off guard and be found as one of the churches from Revelation.
Our Hope Is Jesus!
Everyone is watching to see how we react. You guys, we have the answer to the confusion, anger, fear, and helplessness. We shouldn’t keep it to ourselves. His name is JESUS and he is more than enough! Let’s keep our focus and be the calm light in the darkness. Let’s reach out and help others as much as possible. Let’s point everyone to the source of our peace, hope, and love.
Unfortunately, we are still human and some Christ-followers are not displaying godly character (fruit). Again, you have a choice to make. You can choose to focus on them and all you feel they are doing wrong or you can choose to focus on God and the goodness going on around you (because there is goodness still happening even if you have to look deeper).
Three Things You Can Do To Help
Do what you can, where you can. This time won’t last forever and may end as quickly as it began. The current measures put into place don’t have to feel like punishment. Choose to look at this time in your life as a gift.
1. Be intentional. Reach out to those who have a greater risk. Phones still work, your car and feet still work, there are still neighbors, the homeless and various shelters that have needs. You can leave a bag of food at someone’s door or run errands for those who can’t. Not sure how to help? Call around until you find someone in need. If you ask him, God will direct you wherever you need to go (James 1:5).
2. Focus on what’s under your roof. Enjoy the family time you’ve been too crazy busy to deal with. Reconnect with loved ones. Take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to relax. Drink plenty of water and get the rest you’ve been neglecting. When you are tired of that, move your muscles by cleaning your house like never before. It’s spring cleaning time anyway, right?
3. Take care of yourself spiritually. Spend time with your heavenly Father as you practice being still (Psalm 6:10). Fast and pray specifically about what is happening in the world right now. Spend time reading your Bible. Try something new like Bible Journalling. If you’ve not fasted, there is no better time to start. Read an area of the Bible you don’t normally read. If you aren’t sure where to start, let me suggest the book of Psalms. I believe it speaks to many right now since it is packed full of crying out to God in help and how He rescues time and time again. Take the time to pray Scripture.
We can squander this time apart or accept and appreciate it as the gift it is.
For Additional Reading: Our Firm Foundation For Fasting & Prayer
For Additional Reading: Pray Scripture When You Need Encouragement To Keep Going
Let Revival Start With Me
Yes, we are asked to keep our distance but at this point, we still have the internet. Use social media to connect with encouragement and hope. The world needs you, please don’t hide your beliefs!
I’ve heard record numbers are flooding the church live-streams and getting saved! I’ve seen reports that “how to get to heaven” and “are the end-times here?” are hugely popular on search engines. People who normally wouldn’t go to church are desperate, scared, and searching. They are turning to us, the church, and the Holy Spirit is not done calling to them!
How many of us have been praying for a revival? Maybe this is the vehicle God is using to bring that forth. Let’s not miss our chance! Let us pray for others and share Jesus with them. Let us clear away the confusion. We can’t escape the world we live in but we can teach others who God is. Knowing who God is won’t take away trouble, pain, or death and we shouldn’t promise otherwise. But it does give something the world is currently missing…hope.
As we go about life during these changing times, I want to encourage you to maintain your course and not forget where your hope (and help) comes from. God is well aware of our situation. Maybe, just maybe He is waiting for us to come to him in prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14). So let’s do that together.
Father God, you are the creator of all heaven and earth. There is nothing seen or unseen that you have not created and there is nothing that can ignore your command. Lord, you tell us in Your Word that if we need wisdom, we can ask and we will receive (James 1:5, Proverbs 2:3-5).
Lord God, I ask for your wisdom and knowledge to be showered on your people today. So many of us are getting confused and the spirit of fear is consuming our hearts and minds. Give us the wisdom to turn to you instead of the world for our answers, give us the wisdom to discern truth from lies, give us the wisdom to speak life and not death, give us the wisdom to fear you instead of fearing this virus and what it might do to our future. Lord Almighty, thank you for blessing us with your godly wisdom!
Father, I pray that every person reading this begins to feel a fresh stirring in their spirit to dig into the Bible every day, to seek your face as they diligently pray, and to strive to put others before themselves. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, amen!