Encouragement

From Praise to Protests: Finding Peace in a Pandemic

Here we are…sitting in our homes in the year of 2020, amongst a global pandemic. Who woulda thought? I have been wanting to sit down and write this for some time, but honestly just couldn’t find the courage to do it. Until yesterday, when I was sitting listening to my pastor (who for some weird and unexplainable reason, always seems to be on the same wave length as I am and numerous times I find myself wanting to stand up and cheer – which being at home watching, now I can), I realized that these things the Lord has been laying on my heart might be an encouragement people need to hear. At least my pastor thought so too, so why not. You can obviously take or leave what I have to say, because in reality, I am just another human sinner standing on the soap box of personal ideals. But maybe, just maybe, something will resonate with what I have to say.

When this Covid19 business all started at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t completely worried. In honesty, I felt (and continue to feel) that I already had it back in January when I fell seriously ill after being in Seattle, WA for Christmas. I was scheduled for heart surgery in March, we were flying around visiting potential colleges for my daughter, my son’s infusions were beginning, life was moving on. I listened to our doctors and made the precautions they suggested…seeing that most people were claiming this wasn’t going to be a big deal. Then March 13th hit and the story changed. We went into lock down. The virus had staked its claim on the world and in turn the world responded.

For most, that meant preparing what they could and getting settled as fast as possible with the new norm. People hoarded toilet paper, cleaning supplies, food. Pushing, shoving, fighting, and selfishness abounded throughout the world as we all struggled with what this could mean. Plans were cancelled, surgeries postponed, stores closed and life stopped.

We were all worried, scared, confused, and just plain freaked out. I mean not many of us have lived through a time such as this. We remember the stories of the flu pandemic of the early 1900’s (mostly because of Twilight – come on you know what I am talking about), and we started to act like the apocalypse was on the horizon.

Yet, as the virus spread from country to country and nation to nation, and death numbers grew, we saw a change. In most, we saw a community thankful and united. We saw governments trying to help their citizens, we saw immense praise for first responders, neighbors taking care of neighbors, the sharing of resources, love, and hope. We found new ways to connect with friends and family and reconnected with those who we were under the same roof with. We found time. We looked at the world and cried with it, we looked at our neighbor and suffered with them, we looked at our “enemies” and let bygones be bygones. I saw the world stop and see what we had all become: self centered, idol worshipping, lovers of the world. I know that sounds harsh, but if you think of it, we have all been confronted with something in this pandemic. The worry of the loss of money, friendships, health, identity… we all struggled with different parts of what this virus was doing worldwide. As jobs were lost, health was attacked, money dwindled, social gatherings cancelled, we have all been slapped in the face with losing the things that brought us security, fulfillment, peace, and joy.

My family had this conversation pretty early on. We saw how we each were having those things we relied so heavily on be stripped from us. All we were left with was God. All we were left with was the ability to trust in Him. Wow….scary, but exactly where we needed to be. This brought to light so many things in my own life in which I sought safety. I felt…out of control.

I quickly remembered that THIS IS NOT OUR HOME!!! God is my home, He is my identity, He is the provider and sustainer! This was the hope we clung to. Of course, that was a minute by minute clinging (still is!!). I often found myself in the depths of despair and had to climb back out by remembering WHO GOD IS! It helped to see society love, society reach out and grasp with both hands the truth that we were all the same people – ONE PEOPLE UNDER GOD – no matter where you were in the world, we were honestly all going through this together. It was inspiring to see the hope, love, grace, and sincerity thrive.

Yet, now…here we are…only 2 months in…60 days in (and yes I say only) and all of that has changed. We are back to where we were in the beginning. Filled with anger, selfishness, divisiveness and disobedience. 60 days was all it took to turn brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend.

I am reminded of Exodus, when the Israelites were saved from their slavery and started on their wandering journey to the “promised land.” God had just rescued them from the harsh life from which they were enslaved and gave them freedom with the promises of great things to come. He had shown them great miracles that only secured their hope in Him and His promises. Yet, “on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled…” hmmm sounds familiar.

It is funny, because for most believers, we looked at these times and thought, “wow, how dare they grumble, how dare they doubt! I mean look at what God did, look at what He is leading them to”! Yet, look at us. We looked at the sons of Israel as they built idols and worshipped them because God was not doing what they wanted WHEN they wanted it. They rejected their authority that God had set over them and took on for themselves that which they thought they deserved or needed. God provided food, but it wasn’t good enough. God provided freedom, but it wasn’t the freedom they wanted (in fact they wanted to go back to slavery because they had better food!). God provided people and relationships, but those were getting old. God provided the promises of things to come, but they wanted it now.

We are the same. God has provided and continues to provide, but His provisions aren’t good enough. God has a plan and a promise of things to come, but we want things now. God has given us freedom in Him, yet we strive for a different freedom. As a church, we are able to worship together, read our Bible, love on one another, it just doesn’t look the way you want. You disagree with the authority God has over you (FOR HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE) and yet, it’s not the authority you desire because they aren’t giving you what you think is right so you fight back. We may disagree and distrust our authority, but it is still who God has over us. I am not sure the Israelites liked or trusted Pharaoh’s authority all that much (although, once given freedom, guess who wanted slavery), yet they obeyed who God had over them, even to the point of death, knowing GOD would send a deliverer.

We are far better off than the Israelites in Exodus, but we are sure sounding like them. I know that times are hard, I am at the forefront of seeing ALL sides; as loved ones have lost loved ones, friends have lost jobs, money has literally disappeared, and your only friends are those living with you (or perhaps just the person in the mirror). But in these times I remember Christ. I remember how we have a Savior who suffers with us. He spent 40 days isolated and alone in the desert, being tempted by Satan, eating nothing! He feared for the days ahead when His crucifixion was near; prayed for God to remove the cup that was laid before Him. He was bruised, beaten, mocked, ridiculed, starved, shunned, crucified. Yet, He obeyed – gave Himself over to the authority he distrusted and disagreed with and never complained. Why? because He knew the plan. He knew the promise and the goal and that far outweighed the present sufferings.

Paul puts it so well in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable to the coming glory to be revealed to us.”

We press on toward the goal…we run the race… not because of what this current world can give us, but because of the glory to come! The final reward the Christ prepares for us even now. Heaven in our home…not here.

You are not unseen, unheard, unloved, uncared for. You are SEEN, HEARD, LOVED, CARED FOR more than you know. More than anything this world can provide. So set your minds on the things above. Know that God cares for you, more than the sparrow, sees your pain, knows your hurt, understands your needs. Hold fast! Find peace in the One who holds you in the palm of His hand. Who sets before you an identity, loves you more than anything or anyone here, and has a plan and place for you!

Remember our goal: to be the light! Who or what are you being the advocate of right now? Are you laying aside self and allowing God to use the life He has given you. Are you modeling after Christ and His sacrifices or are your own “needs” and wants getting in the way of truly letting go and allowing God to work in your life and the life of others. Don’t be the one that is exemplifying hatred, spite, selfishness and cruelty. Be the meek mannered, loving, obedient Son of God, who is so full of the SPIRIT that that is all anyone can see! For the fruits of our human nature are hatred, selfishness, deceit, worldliness and the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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