It’s a question I’ve been pondering lately. One, five, ten, thirty years from now, what will I want–and not want–to say when someone asks, “How did you live through that?”
For many months now, I feel like I’ve just been surviving…one day at a time, one foot after the other, one more morning waking up and wondering what horrors are in store for us next. If you’re like me, your brain has physiologically resorted to a sort of constant fight-or-flight syndrome, like troops on call for a battle.
And that’s just plain exhausting.
I didn’t realize what a pit I was living in until I found a Bible study on the armor of God*–or rather, it found me. I started reading the Bible again (and I’d been sorely remiss about that). I hadn’t asked God to change my heart. I was too worn out to realize I needed changed. But like the good, good father that He is, He knew. And He rescued me.
All around us, it seems everything has changed, and indeed, much has. But in a way, nothing has changed at all. We are–as we have always been–in a battle for our souls. That may seem strong, but Jesus assured us in John 16:33 that in this world we will have trouble. Granted, the trouble of these days is worse than most of us have ever faced. But our choice in how we respond in the long run is just that–a choice.
Many times, only the phrase about trouble in John 16:33 is quoted. But leaving it at that eliminates the most precious promises:
“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 TMV
Jesus warned us about hard times not so that we would worry and despair, but so we would be unshakeable and assured and deeply at peace.
How can we feel assured when the whole world seems to be falling apart? How can we be at peace–and not only that but deeply at peace–when loved ones are dying and spouses have lost jobs and new graduates can’t find them and on and on with the blaring headlines and anger and fear?
Because God’s promises are greater than feelings. God’s promises are truth, and truth is hope. And as the protagonist in my novel, Before I Saw You says on the very first page,
“Hope means everything when you’ve got nothing.”
No one knows how long we will face this pandemic and its challenges. But we can know that we are not alone and we can find peace in the hope of Jesus.
If I can encourage you to do anything, friends, it would be to rededicate yourself to reading the Bible every day (if you aren’t already). Not only that, but make the Bible the very first thing you read every day. There are some great Bible apps for smart phones these days (I use YouVersion), and since–it’s okay to admit it–our phones are the first things we grab when we open our eyes in the morning, a Bible app is a great way to incorporate the Word first in your day. Not Facebook. Not the weather app. Not Twitter or the news or Instagram, but the Word. And while you’re at it, pray your armor on every morning, too.
Start your days with the Word, and see how the assurance and hope God freely offers begins to change your heart and perspective.
I don’t want to look back on these days and realize I was a frightened and angry person. I don’t want to look back and regret the bad habits I’ve developed and poor coping skills. I want to look back and be able to say that I had victory over these days because I spent them safely in the strong tower of His love and mercy.
May I close this with a prayer for you?
Lord, we are weary. We are burdened. We are scared. Send your peace to each person reading this today, and in the days to come. Give us the discipline we need to focus on you and your Word, so that these dark days do not steal our joy, and so that we can live with the unshakeable assurance that you–and only you–have overcome the world. We praise you for who you are, and that you so mercifully love us so, in spite of ourselves. Amen.