These past few weeks have been among some of the most interesting and different weeks of my entire life. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, in one way or another. This is a time of grieving and morning for many. This has been a time of great stress and panic for others. My prayer is that the Lord will comfort everyone during this time. I pray that his tender love will fill the hearts of all across the world, securing the insecure, consoling the grieving, calming the fearful, and providing for everyone in need. I pray that life will be better after this is over. This too shall pass. Ironically, these past few weeks have been the most peaceful weeks of my entire life.
The pandemic has put a sudden halt too many things. We have suddenly lost the many privileges that we have grown accustomed to enjoying. Things are just shut down, and whatever is not shut down is running with very limited functioning. No meeting up with friends and restaurants. No going to the gym. No lounging around in Starbucks. No shopping in malls. No gathering in church. What does this mean? We are forced to slow down. We’re forced to turn to what matters the most. Our focus is recalibrated. Our minds are renewed. Our hearts are shifted. It’s almost as if the slow down and shut downs have brought us to a place where we are meant to be – totally dependent upon God.
What do we do when things are completely out of our control? There are some who put 100% of their faith in human capabilities, as if humans are sovereign. Now don’t get me wrong, God gave us many abilities, but relying solely on human strength and self-help leaves us depleted, frustrated, and exhausted. The reality is we cannot change every situation – If we could there would be no coronavirus, there would be no poverty, there would be no pain, etc.; However, these are all part of life and while finding solutions is always ideal, The most vital thing is finding the right perspective that will benefit self and others.
During these past few weeks my dependence on God has grown exponentially. My relationship with him has blossomed like the most beautiful flower in spring, nurtured with sweet rain from heaven. I’ve really come to a place of rest and peace, releasing and surrendering everything to Him – from my desires to my future. It’s so easy to worry and let anxiety run its course, but it’s too expensive and I simply can’t afford it – it costs me my peace, it costs me my joy, it costs me my stability – all things I cannot afford to relinquish to worry and anxiety. It’s not that I’m not dealing with reality – I live in this world just like everyone else. I have dilemmas and situations just like everyone else. I just refuse to allow my dilemmas and situations to have me.
Sure, I can watch CNN and other news outlets all day. Sure, I can get mad at God and question why all this is happening. Sure, I can sit around and worry about how we are all going to survive this new way of life and if things will ever be the same, but I cannot partake from the table of negativity and toxic focus. Doing such changes absolutely nothing. This new way of life amidst the pandemic has taught me how to fully just let go. What does that look like? God is in control. Period. No use in trying to figure anything out in my human logic, I only end up frustrated (Proverbs 3:5-6). To be honest, nothing really makes sense. Nothing. But there could be no better opportunity for faith to grow. After all, if we had all the answers and solutions, there would be no need for faith (Hebrews 11:1). If we had all the answers and solutions, we would be God. This is simply not so.
What we really need to understand is that God is sovereign, above all and everything. He is the Highest power. His thoughts and ways are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). If I worship the dilemmas and situations of life, I’ll end up sick – can’t do it. Everyday I make the intentional and conscious decision to cast my cares to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Again, we all know that worry yields nothing good. It only induces anxiety that breeds loads of other issues, from negative physiological effects to how we treat others. So knowing this, why choose to worry? I can assure you from experience that there is freedom in releasing our cares and concerns through prayer, worship, and studying the word of God (a.k.a. the Bible). Why does this work? Because it shifts our focus from the problem (which drives us to anxiety) to the God who has everything under control (which breeds great peace and comfort). The choice is ours.
Philippians 4:4–8 is one of my favorite scriptures. It’s super loaded – it guarantees peace beyond our human capabilities. Apostle Paul instructed the Philippians to rejoice first and foremost, reminding them that the Lord is near. He then tells them to be anxious for nothing, but pray about everything, with thanksgiving. It is vital to understand the power of gratitude. Counting blessings and giving thanks shift our focus from negative to positive, replacing great sorrow with great joy! Paul then tells the Philippians that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (which of course also applies to us as well who have faith in Christ). In order to maintain their peace and joy, the Philippians are advised to keep their thoughts focused on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy – nowhere is there space for worry, is there?
I don’t have all the answers and solutions, but I put my trust in the Mighty God who does. I’ve tried the worrying and anxiety, it makes my stomach hurt – literally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my appetite and missed meals over worry. No dilemmas or situations are worth my health and well-being. Period. I pray (i.e making my requests known to God), give thanks (for my current blessings and the ones to come), and I release (i.e making the intentional decision to not think about or worry about the dilemma or situation). Reading God‘s word keeps my mind on the promises of God guaranteed to those who follow Him and love Him. I cannot think of one time God didn’t work out a situation or dilemma I prayed about and released to Him. He may not work things out exactly when we want Him to, or how we want Him to. Nevertheless, he is God alone. He’s never failed. He cannot fail. He never will fail. Always remember that (Romans 8:28).
Peace, love and a thousand blessings.