Currently, the world is in crisis mode. There is a global pandemic: The Coronavirus. The toilet paper shelves are empty in most stores, most events have been cancelled, a portion of the world’s population are very sick, world leaders are making decisions by the hour, and people are worried across the globes. Our hearts and minds are as heavy as mountains. We are trying not to panic, but really, many of us are, in fact, panicking. Today, if there’s just one thing I want to remind the world it’s this truth that will sustain us: “God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (1 John 3:20)
Maybe like me, you’ve been somewhat consumed by all of this news, trying to keep up to date and informed. To be honest? I’ve been so inundated by the second by second news updates as well as a heap of bad news after bad news from many loved ones this week, that I spent a few days away from peacefully sitting in God’s Word. I’ve been praying and soaking in Scripture by the spoonful, but not the hearty plate full that my soul requires to function healthily these past few days. My soul has felt so weighted down. Maybe yours has, too. I want to help lift our hearts by reminding us of the actual hope in Christ that is ours and is promised to us by God’s Word. As I spent time with the Lord recently, I was reminded of ten things that will practically help remind us that God really is greater than our heart. Here they are:
1. Acknowledge your fears, what is wrong, and that there is a lot out of your control.
It does no good to stuff those fears down. Name them. Name your disappointments. Name what is out of your control. Get it off your chest and admit that you do not hold the power to fix it all, figure it all out, or to provide ultimate protection for your loved ones. This is a humbling process and surely reminds us that we are not all powerful. The Bible says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) Do you know what that tells me? God knows we are prone to fear and we can acknowledge the reality of fear and also acknowledge all the more our great need of God, even in our hour of fear.
2. Trust God by the second.
There’s an old hymn called, “I need thee every hour.” It’s a resounding truth and an honest cry to God for help. We need His help, desperately. The circumstances of the world are acute reminders of the fact that we need Him. Though, when the world has a more even tide, We still need Him every hour. With each bit of overwhelming news, come in your weakness and trust God for His power to be made perfect in you and earnestly seek Him, believing that He truly is Lord over all, even the impossible. We are living in a world of overwhelming news. Here’s how we can respond, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
3. Read your Bible.
It’s alive and active, full of hope, encouragement, and wisdom. The words of the media, physicians, leaders, masses, and the internet are not perfect. God’s Word IS perfect. I have found myself wondering, “Where are the adults to tell us everything is going to be ok?” like we were reassured as children. The truth is, we are all scared and not sure WHAT is going to be ok. But those who are in Christ have a perfect Heavenly Father, who comforts and directs us by His Word. We are searching for words of hope, encouragement, wisdom, and peace. We will find them in God’s Word over and over as we trust Him by the second. “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.” (Romans 15:4)
God is listening. He wants to take the burdens we are carrying. He wants to give us wisdom. He wants to give us peace that passes all understanding. Keep talking with God. It is a privilege that Jesus has made a way for us to approach the throne of His Father, our Father, with boldness. Present every single anxiety to Him. Talk it all through with Him. And pray for the world, really really. If we call out to God, He will answer us. We are promised peace when we present our anxieties to the Lord, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:6-7)
Obey God. His Word is full of commands given to us for our good and His glory. One that comes to mind right now is, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Another is, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Still another, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 This goes for everything else that He tells us in His Word. We can’t obey this on our own, but we can by His supernatural strength and staying connected with Him in prayer and His Word. In turn, this will help us have wisdom to submit to authority as those put in charge do their best to help respond practically and wisely to the crisis we are enduring. Pray especially for our leaders as you obey their decisions to help the people they were put in place to lead.
Share encouragement. Don’t hold back a kind or helpful word. Listen to others and do what you can to bless their day. Remind people that they are seen, remembered, valued, loved, and prayed for. In the inundation of bad news, share good news. Pass along good things to dwell on. Share the hope of Christ regularly. And also? Share tangible blessings with others as much as possible. Don’t hoard things that people around you may need. “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)
Limit your time on the internet. It can be a vortex on the regular, but it seems like it is especially now. In doing this, it will help you to step away from the weight of the world at least for a little bit. You can catch up as you need to with the information you truly do need to be aware of. But know that you have limits of what you can consume. As we limit our exposure to others physically right now in efforts to protect our physical help, let’s limit our exposure to the overwhelming amount of bad news. I’m not saying to put your head in the sand and ignore the world. I am just saying to give yourself healthy boundaries to protect your mental and heart health. A great reminder on where our focus should be is this: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
8. Take notes.
We all have so much to take away from our experiences with crisis. Take notes on it all. What are you seeing? What are you noticing/ What are you learning? What are you learning is most important? As you take these notes, it will help you process what you are going through and also be equipped to apply some of what you’ve learned from this to another experience down the road and also to help others to process these things as well as you are ready to share. This is one of my very favorite passages and actually, my anthem for my own writing ministry and it can help put a lot of perspective and purpose into what you’re going through, as well: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
9. Don’t waste your life.
Do what you can with what you have. Savor the gifts of time slowed down. So often, we complain that we don’t have enough time. For many of us, this time where many things are cancelled and even times of social distancing may just be a gift. You know how you start the sentence, “If I just had more time, I would ____________” ? What if it’s now? What if now is the time to really spend time with God and build a new rhythm of time spent with Him, read those books, write that book, spend more time with your family, organize that closet, reach out to that friend or far away loved one, paint that picture, start that workout routine, catalogue those photos, or whatever else it is that you have felt like your schedule was too full to do? Don’t waste it by being consumed with doom. Whatever may happen, this time is a gift. Use it wisely. Remember this wise challenge from God’s Word: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
We are humans. We are prone to fear, worry, anxiety, and freakouts. It’s inevitable that all of these real feelings will crop up as more news and more adversity comes about. When it does, start over. Acknowledge it all, trust God by the second, read your Bible, Pray, Obey, Share with Others, Limit your exposure with healthy boundaries, Take Notes on What You’re Learning, Don’t Waste Your Life, and Repeat again…
My prayer is that someday, whoever is reading this can be encouraged. This encouragement isn’t just for facing the Coronavirus, but for whatever crisis it is we must face.
As I’ve reflected on these things, I l remembered a visual we have hanging on our walls. I have a framed vintage map of the British Isles. A few years back, my husband screen printed a graphic over top of it as part of an art show collection he contributed to. It says, “I kept calm. I carried on.” Let’s take a note from the Brits of the WW2 era. We can do the same as the posters of their day urged, “Keep Calm, Carry On.” We can’t do it well in our own strength, but we can with the strength of the Lord.
With the help of God and His Word, you can move through fear right now and on to victorious living. You are loved and not alone, friend. He cares so deeply for you and does not want you to live in fear. Keep His Words on repeat, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you…”