WRITTEN BY DOMONIQUE LUCIO, a member of The Response Church.
We are in a time of uncertainty. Daily news updates are becoming more and more concerning as COVID-19 spreads rapidly. We have slowly started to distance ourselves from friends and family trying to do our parts in stopping this virus from spreading. As I talk to friends, family, and coworkers, I continue to hear the same struggles from those around me. We are all facing fears of the unknown, loneliness in quarantine measures, and mounting anxieties in meeting emotional and physical needs for ourselves and our families. We are isolated but not alone in our worries and concerns. We are all experiencing the same feelings in our separate parts of the world. But what does this reveal about us? It shows us the condition of humanity, our sinful nature, and it points to the overwhelming need for a Savior.
As I hear concerns from others, and feel the same concerns myself, I felt the need to address what we are all experiencing during this time of uncertainty. I believe that God allows us to experience suffering for two major reasons. First, to draw us closer to Him because He is the only true refuge and source of strength in our lives. Second, God can allow us to experience suffering so that we may be ready to encourage others in the same situations and point them closer to Christ. Here are some ways we can draw closer to Him and encouragement for when these feelings arise.
Fear. The bible is very clear on how we should combat fear. Some examples we find in scripture are 2 Tim 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” and in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Why do we so easily give in to fear and let it control us? It may come in various forms. Maybe it’s because we are failing to trust God, wanting to take control of situations, worry of what others will think of us, or not seeing God for who He truly is. In our sinfulness, we tend to put our hope in things of this world whether it be jobs, relationships, material items, money, etc. When things of this world give us false hope or fail us, our fears grow. But these things were never meant to give us hope. True hope only comes from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So how do we combat fear in this time of uncertainty?
Repent- Ask God to forgive you for the ways you are putting hope in the things of this world. What are you struggling to believe about God and His character?
Pray- Ask God to take away any sinful or irrational fears and fill you with hope that only comes from Him. Be ready to wage war for the bible states in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to destroy”.
Read- Seek God’s truth in His word. The bible equips us in every situation that we face in this life. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Relinquish control- Things will happen that are completely out of our control, but we can rest in knowing that God is sovereign and everything He is doing in this world is for His glory and our good. His ways are better than our ways and He will never fail us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Duet. 31:6
Loneliness. No matter what season in life, people will experience loneliness. Loneliness can feel overwhelming and hopeless. It causes people to feel depressed and even think of taking their own lives. In a time when we are asked to socially distance ourselves, loneliness can be inevitable. We often seek relationships in our lives to satisfy us and fill our needs that we can only find in Christ. When those relationships are taken away or fail us, we experience feelings of loneliness. We begin to feel forgotten or as if no one can understand what we are going through. The truth is our friends and family were never meant to sustain and satisfy us. Only God can do that, and He has promised that he will never fail us. Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’.” It will be normal to feel lonely during this time and we should be reaching out to others for encouragement and support and voicing our feelings of sadness. We can cry out to God and ask Him for help in the storm. Ultimately, we must trust that we can do nothing in this life without Christ. When we are trusting in the creator of the universe to sustain us, how can we ever truly be alone? “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Anxiety. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength”. In my personal life, I feel as if I am combating worry daily. I do not trust that God is in control and try to take control myself. When things go wrong, I feel as if I must fix it. In a time when things are changing day by day, hour by hour, I feel anxiety rising. Worry and anxiety can rob of us sleep, affect our relationships, and cause undue stress. I have seen thoughts and actions all over social media lately that show the anxieties we are feeling. “What if toilet paper runs out?” “What if I get Coronavirus?” or “What if everything shuts down?” The Bible is filled with reminders on why we should not worry for things of this world. Matthew 6 verse 27 states “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” and verse 31-34 says “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’ For the gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”. We must fix our eyes on the things of God and seek His kingdom first. When we are focused on the things of God, we will have less time to worry about the things of this world. Rejoice in the Lord and the ways He has provided for you and your family during this trying time. Remind yourself of all the ways God has been faithful in your life. Meditate on Hebrews 12 and be encouraged about running the race that is set before us.
Know that you are not alone during this time. There are people in your lives that are feeling the same way and would love to talk and encourage you in the ways of the Lord. Be ready to actively fight your fears and anxieties but not from your own strength, only by the Lord’s. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) I will leave you with this prayer from Valley of Vision. Take heart, dear friends, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Servant in Battle
“O LORD, I bless thee that the issue of the battle
between thyself and Satan
has never been uncertain,
and will end in victory.
Calvary broke the dragon’s head,
and I contend with a vanquished foe,
who with all his subtlety and strength
has already been overcome.
When I feel the serpent at my heel
may I remember him whose heel was bruised,
but who, when bruised, broke the devil’s head.
My soul with inward joy extols
the mighty conqueror.
Heal me of any wounds received
in the great conflict;
if I have gathered defilement,
if my faith has suffered damage,
if my hope is less than bright,
if my love is not fervent,
if some creature-comfort occupies my heart,
if my soul sinks under pressure of the fight.
O thou whose every promise is balm,
every touch life,
draw near to thy weary warrior,
refresh me, that I may rise again
to wage the strife,
and never tire until my enemy is trodden down.
Give me such fellowship with thee
that I may defy Satan,
unbelief, the flesh, the world,
with delight that comes not from a creature,
and which a creature cannot mar.
Give me a draught of the eternal fountain
that lieth in thy immutable, everlasting love
Then shall my hand never weaken,
my feet never stumble,
my sword never rest,
my shield never rust,
my helmet never shatter,
my breastplate never fall,
as my strength rests in the power
of thy might.”