How God says to respond during the pandemic….

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“I feel like everyone, everywhere has lost their minds…..”

This is  a quote that came out of my mouth several times during the past week and a half. Between the Facebook posts, conflicting news reports, and aggression from people over small things, I had come to the conclusion that the world has lost it’s mind. Things seemed so out of sync.

Once, only a few short weeks ago,  this pandemic had started bringing out the best in people like when we saw millions of hearts in the windows of homes across the country in support of our essential workers and to lift the spirits of those who saw them. People were social distancing even though it was hard to not see loved ones. We were protecting each other because we cared about each other. Everyone was coming together, regardless of political, religious, or other belief systems. The world recognized ourselves as the human race – a united group of people who together would help defeat a virus called Covid-19.

Fast-forward a few weeks to the present…..People are playing politics even though the virus doesn’t care how you vote. People are condemning others because of the choices they are making for their family. Others are name-calling and arguing back and forth like they were on an elementary playground. So many are only focusing on themselves and what affects them – selfish behaviors are becoming the norm.

Because I am a rule-follower, ever since I could walk and talk, I have been on the receiving end of these comments. Because I am continuing to shelter in place I have been told that I am “caving to the political agendas instead of fighting for my rights and freedom.” Because I wear a mask, I have been told that I am letting fear get the better of me. Because I am not “bucking the system” I have been called a sheep. And the lowest blow of last week was being told that I wasn’t really a Christian if I was allowing myself to be told what to do by those in power. That because I don’t speak out against the leaders of my state and nation, I must not be a true Christian. (mouth drop)

As a child I was always taught to respect those in authority. From my parents, my elders, teachers at school, etc. I was taught the important lesson of respect and how to follow the rules.

Titus 3:1-2 saysRemind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” (NIV)

The Message puts it more bluntly…. Titus 3:1-2 (MSG) “Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.”

Romans 13:1-7 says this “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished.

Those who do right do not have to be afraid of the leaders. Those who do wrong are afraid of them. Do you want to be free from fear of them? Then do what is right. You will be respected instead. Leaders are God’s servants to help you. If you do wrong, you should be afraid. They have the power to punish you. They work for God. They do what God wants done to those who do wrong.

You must obey the leaders of the land, not only to keep from God’s anger, but so your own heart will have peace. It is right for you to pay taxes because the leaders of the land are servants for God who care for these things. Pay taxes to whom taxes are to be paid. Be afraid of those you should fear. Respect those you should respect.” (NIV)

Scripture says this over and over again.

1 Peter 2:13 Obey the head leader of the country and all other leaders over you. This pleases the Lord. (NIV)

Instead of condemning our leaders, God actually says we should be PRAYING for them! We need to be praying for wisdom for our leaders. Even if we don’t agree with what they are choosing to do, God commands us to pray for them.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says First of all, I ask you to pray much for all men and to give thanks for them. Pray for kings and all others who are in power over us so we might live quiet God-like lives in peace. It is good when you pray like this. It pleases God Who is the One Who saves. He wants all people to be saved from the punishment of sin. He wants them to come to know the truth.” (NIV)

God even shows us what to do when we disagree with someone else. In 1 Peter 3:15 He says, “Your heart should be holy and set apart for the Lord God. Always be ready to tell everyone who asks you why you believe as you do. Be gentle as you speak and show respect.”

As we go about our weeks and months ahead, I pray that everyone can be a little bit kinder, thinking about others, and representing themselves as Christ has asked us to. God gave us the two most important commandments:

  1. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.

So whether you agree with someone (leadership included), let’s move forward with a lot more love as we get through this pandemic together.

 

When will this be over?

After being “sheltered in place” for over a month now I often think, sometimes multiple times a day, “When will this all be over?”

I long for the days when I can get in my car, without my Clorox wipes and face mask, to go to the grocery store.

I yearn for the day when we can come together as a community of believers in our church building and give endless hugs and handshakes.

I get misty-eyed when I think of things I just knew would happen like taking my daughter to her dance lessons,  waving to the kids as they left on the school bus, and going out to a restaurant as a family.

I miss lunch dates with my friends, our weekly small group meetings at church, going shopping to find a new outfit, and other things that we normally just take for granted.

So when I am watching TV and see all of the sitcom characters doing all of the things we “used to do” in groups or gathering in various locations that are now closed – I say to myself…“When will this all over over? I wish it were over now.”

So many times in life we “wish things were over” quicker. When my daughter was born, she was very colicky and screamed 24-7 for 3 months straight. I couldn’t wait for those days to pass quickly, even though many parents love those first few months. I was wishing them away with every fiber of my being. They couldn’t go fast enough. I just wanted to rock a quiet, cooing baby, instead of the screaming baby that couldn’t be soothed.

I also remember in college that while going through “those classes” (you know the ones…. with the boring professor that went on and on about things that didn’t seem relevant to your life, let alone your degree.) I just wanted to get through my classes so I could get started in my career and with living my life. I was wishing away my college years, even though they were some of the best in my life.

Then there are the hard times that you wish you could get through by snapping your fingers so you were through them. Like losing a loved one, being laid off, breaking up with a significant other, or going through a season of illness. We just want to close our eyes and wake up with things being okay and normal, where there is no more pain.

So often we wish away these things, but don’t see the value in going through them. There are life lessons to be learned and good things to come out of every season like the ones above.

When my daughter was colicky I learned how to cherish those quiet moments that came after, to really appreciate the sweet moments that eventually came. It caused me to really try to learn many techniques in calming her that worked later on. It also caused my husband and I to work as a team and to communicate through this difficult season.

If I had rushed through my college classes and jumped straight into my career, I wouldn’t have built the skills needed in my profession. I wouldn’t have had the hands on experience that really made the difference in my teaching career. I also wouldn’t have built the amazing friendships I did when I was at college, some of which are strong today! And most importantly, at college I really found out who I was and found my identity in Christ for the first time on my own.

If we didn’t have to go through the hard seasons in our lives, like going through the grieving process, we wouldn’t heal. Sometimes it takes hard moments to bring us closer to God. He wants us to be able to lean on Him, not on our own strength. So it takes our moments of weakness to allow Him to be our Rock and Strength.

During this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be days we want it all to be over. But maybe instead of wishing this time away, we could rest in some of the lessons we are learning while we are “sheltering in place.” Here are some I have already discovered:

  • I need to take time to rest from the busyness of life. (My calendar has been wiped clear so I need to rest and enjoy that.)
  • I need to be thankful that my family is together and healthy. Not all families are able to be together right now, and many are worried about loved ones in the hospital or isolated that they can’t be with right now.
  • I am thankful to have time to really invest in my children’s education in a new way. It’s amazing what I am learning about my kids that I could only see from this perspective!
  • I am also learning to rest in the promises God has for me in His Word.  His Word has become fresh and alive for me during this time as I have been writing scriptures daily. His Word has become my anchor. Would it have been so desperately needed if I wasn’t going through this? Yes, but I may not have recognized it.
  • I am also thankful that I know there will be an end to this someday. Not sure when, but either we will find a vaccine for this virus, or Jesus will come back. Either way an end of quarantine will come.

What lessons have you learned during this time of isolation? 

March Verse of the Month: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 | KendraNicole.net

Verses to consider about enjoying the present and not wishing away time:

2 Corinthians 4:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

 

Romans 8:22-25 (The Message)

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Finding the “Holes” in our Faith

Over the past few weeks, people have said several times on the news and social media that this pandemic is really shedding light on the “holes” we have in our healthcare. So there is a silver lining in all of this – that we will be able to improve and better our healthcare after this is over based on what we now know. In all fairness to our healthcare providers, no one could be prepared for a pandemic of this nature even if our system was perfect.

But there are other “holes” I am finding throughout this experience. They are the “holes” in my faith. I am realizing in the midst of something out of my control that is scary and unknown, my faith is not what I thought. It’s not as strong. It’s not a solid. It wavers and gives into fear. It doesn’t trust with my whole heart. It is imperfect.

James 1:2-8 descibes what I have been feeling after sitting with this thought yesterday…

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (NIV)VOTD October 4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The beautiful thing about this verse is it acknowledges we will have or faith tested. But when those tests and trials come we need to push through with determination and purpose. It says that we need to allow this determination to “finish it’s work,” meaning our faith isn’t complete and has holes in it. This verse acknowledges that we may not have a complete and mature faith. This verse gives us grace.

But then it continues on by giving us hope that we can continue to grow and strengthen our faith if we ask for it directly from God. He says in verse 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” He promises us that if we ask for wisdom to make our faith stronger that God will give it to us. 

He also says this in verse 6-8 “ But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” We have to believe that God will deliver the wisdom and faith we need without any doubts. For if we doubt we will not receive anything from God. It says we will be double-minded and unstable in all we do. 

How many times have I felt conflicted in my thoughts and decisions, like I was double-minded? How many times have I felt like my decisions may be unstable?

About two weeks ago when the governor placed a “stay at home order” on the state of Illinois, I was relieved because I was comforted to know that we could all be in quarantine and safe from this vicious virus that was so unpredictable. After all of the news reports and social media posts I had been reading about how severe of a threat this virus could be, even to younger and healthier people, I was ready to shut my doors with my family safe inside and just be isolated. That gave me comfort. But then Chad’s company determined they were “essential workers” and he would have to continue to go into work. I remember feeling the grip of fear and doubt. I was scared that he would contract this virus, that he could bring it home….. I saw pictures in my mind of all 4 of us unable to breathe and dying together at home (worst case scenario). I became “irrational and unstable” because of the fear. I was starting to think of things like “Where could Chad stay where he would be isolated from us so we wouldn’t all have to be exposed?” I was starting to scour the internet for bottles of Lysol so I could disinfect our house even more than usual. I began contemplating all of the scenarios in my head that I could until I had to slow my mind down and turn my thoughts to God.

There was a verse that came to mind from Psalm 46: 1-3

God is our refuge and strength,If life hands you lemons, make lemon cupcakes!! GOD is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.”

 

and then one from Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.”

God was reminding me that He was my safe place. He was going to be the place I could run to when I was scared. He would be there with us every step of the way and we were not alone. He knows the future and He has a perfect plan for me and my family – whatever that may entail. He brought me His truth in that moment and I had a peace that I hadn’t had before.

I had decided then and there that I would persevere through this age of coronavirus with faith and trust instead of doubt and fear. I would come out on the other end of this withstanding this trial with faith. James 1:12 says

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of lifethat the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Illustration of James 1:12 — Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 

TODAY’S THOUGHT: Where are the “holes” in your faith? Are you as strong as you thought? Do you trust in God completely when things are spiraling our of your control? Will you ask Him to equip you with the faith you need to get through this time of isolation? 

March 15, 2020 National Day of Prayer

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As we come together as a nation for this National Day of Prayer, specifically to pray over those who have been diagnosed, are waiting testing, or are quarantined from COVID-19, let’s be specific as we come before the throne.

Take a moment to pause and pray:
🌎 For our world as we all come together to fight off this virus. Also pray for the world to turn to Jesus because He is our ultimate comforter, healer, and strength.
🇺🇸 For our government leaders: That they will make decisions based on wisdom and not fear. That they will also be able to protect our citizens as best they can.
⛪️ For our churches: as churches are closed to protect us from large gatherings of people, pray for the technology to be on their side as they are still continuing to try to preach the gospel and reach as many people with the word. Also pray that people continue to give their tithes and offerings so the church can continue to run.


🏥 For our healthcare facilities and hospitals: that they will be able to care for those that come through their doors and continue to find the stamina to keep going when they are tired. Pray that the supplies are plentiful and that we are able to meet the needs of all that come in need of care. This includes all medical personnel from the doctors, nurses, techs, and custodial staff.


🚑 🚔 🚒 For our paramedics, police force, and firemen: pray that they will continue to stay safe as they continue to do their jobs. They cannot work from home and will be on the front lines in many of these situations.


🍎 ✏️ For the schools: even though many of the schools are shut down continue to pray for those that are still providing educational opportunities for our students via e-learning. Pray for our administrators as they continue to make decisions through the closures. And pray for the students that do not have access to food and make sure they are provided for.


👧👦 For the kids across the nation: pray that kids everywhere have an understanding of what is going on and while it is serious they do not need to be afraid. Pray for those kids that are left in abusive situations and whose safe zone was the school. Please protect them while they don’t have a place to go that may be safe.
I’m sure there’s so many other things we could pray for but those are the ones that came to my heart this morning! Above all I am praying that even in the wake of these scary times, I am praying that all people get to know Jesus Christ who has been my rock and comforter during these uncertain times. I pray that they find him in the midst of these unsettled times and make a life-changing decision to follow him the rest of their days.