You are done with quarantine, lock-down, and social-distancing. Life as you knew it pre-COVID19 is totally different. And not much to your liking. You miss your family, friends, and future. Your plans have changed, and your dreams have died. Loss is all around you. Yes, I get it. COVID chaos has affected my family, too. My sweet daughter and son-in-law have lost their jobs, dear Margie is losing her home, and my courageous friend Julie’s stepdad passed away after becoming infected with the corona-virus. How can we renew our hope now in COVID19?
- Let God Do the Heavy Lifting
God is able to relieve our anxious thoughts, carry our burdens, and shoulder our problems, but he needs our cooperation. Saying we need or depend on God is futile if we don’t invite him into our situation. If we carry our worries, stresses, and struggles by ourselves, it shows we haven’t fully trusted God with our lives. If we are going to let him handle our issues, it’s important to submit to His authority. It helps to ask for His assistance. Essentially, it’s admitting, “Lord, I need You. Father, I can’t make it without You.”
1 Peter 5:6-7reminds us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” We can make a conscious choice to let God have our anxieties. The act of “casting all our anxiety” calls for action, not passivity, by letting go, we trust God with the outcome.
- List Things You’re Grateful For
Gratefulness begins with a list. Yes, that’s right. It helps to inventory the things you are grateful for. NYTimes best-selling author Ann Voskamp wrote in her book, One Thousand Gifts, “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with the weight of full attention. In this space of time and sphere, I am attentive, aware, accepting of the whole of the moment, weighing it down with me all here.” Even in the midst of our losses, boredom, frustration, and grief, we can find something or someone to be thankful for. Write them down. One. By. One.
Thank God for the extra time at home, not to clean closets, sort clothes, organize drawers, but to draw near to Him. Thank God for the chance to call family or friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Gratitude is the pathway to unexplainable peace. Thankfulness is the gateway to overwhelming joy. Praise to God is the access point to exuberant love. Make a party happen with your praise.
- Limit Bad News
Choose your news. Don’t believe everything you read or hear on social media. Implement a plan to filter your news sources. My husband and I pre-record the daily reports on the Christian News Network so we can fast forward through commercials and news we don’t need to know. Do we really need to know details on how many COVID19 tests have been done in the USA? No.
In Nehemiah chapter 1, we notice the prophet’s heart is broken over the loss of the ruined wall of Jerusalem. Like him, we can choose to focus on constant prayer and spirit-led fasting. Nehemiah 1:11 says, “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
Nehemiah served the king as his servant – his cup bearer and was invited to submit his request to the ruler. Nehemiah 2:4b says, “Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so I can rebuild it.” Let’s choose to pray Nehemiah’s prayer for each task we are involved in “If it pleases the king, may I _________(fill in the blank).” And let our requests and our actions glorify our King.
Nehemiah’s task to rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem was distracted with sabotage attempts through criticism. He chose not to listen to the advice of those who wanted the project to fail. His enemies made many attempts to stop the rebuilding of the wall, trying to obstruct it with scary threats and bad news. Nehemiah was undeterred by the reports of the enemy’s talk of killing them and putting an end to the work. Even the Jews were not helping, but discouraging Nehemiah. They had come and told them ten times, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” In Nehemiah 4:14, we see the prophet’s courageous response, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Have courage, saint, God is working, God is in control, God’s plans will prevail.
- Leave the Past Behind
Life as we knew it – “pre-COVID19” – will not return. It’s almost unfathomable to think life as we knew it was in fact, cancelled. Every public event worldwide has been banned, no more sporting events, no live concerts, no theatre productions. Funerals and weddings have been postponed. Malls and restaurants are shut down. Many churches have moved their services online. Things will be different. We don’t yet know what our future holds, but we know God has got this.
Ministry looks a little different now, through Zoom, Skype or conference calls, and with creative technology, we are able to keep building God’s Kingdom. Opportunities abound, and we don’t have to look far to notice those who are lonely or feel lost in the midst of the challenges. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
When we walk, the waters of adversity will be parted before us. I love these encouraging words from the classic devotional, Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, “Overburdened as the world is with trouble and sickness, I (God) need those who have proved My (God’s) sufficiency in everyday, personal experience to lead the suffering to the fountains of life. I need those who have found Me as burden-bearer to help bring deliverance to the oppressed.”.
In addition to my daily “thankfulness list,” I choose to notice and list “hope sightings.” A recent yard sign campaign reminded me, “Hope is not cancelled.”
I anticipate good things to come about from the pandemic. God’s hope is enough for everyone. Romans 15:13 reminds us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As we are filled up to overflowing with God’s anointed hope, we can pass it on to those in need. And, for sure, we won’t have to look far.
This article appeared on the blog at Lead Like Jesus on 5/26/2020