In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to have faith; faith in medicine, in government, in one another and in God. So much presses down on our minds and hearts, threatening to undo us if we give into it. We are fearful for our loved ones to be healthy, worried for how our lives have been and will continue to be disrupted, and fearful of the unknown. Maybe anxiety and depression, well known companions in your life before this, are weighing you down more and more with every day that goes by. Maybe you’ve had to postpone or altogether cancel some pretty momentous experiences or celebrations. I have known several family and friends who have had a loved one pass away during this time, unrelated to the virus, and are having to wait to mourn in person with others and celebrate their loved one’s life. Maybe you’re not hurting personally but the compassion you feel for those that are weighs you down. The list goes on and on. How have you been impacted?
Since I strive to be authentic and honest I’ll tell you I haven’t always gone to Jesus in moments of sorrow, fear, worry, confusion, frustration and sadness. I have blamed Him and been angry with Him and boycotted Him. Anyone else been on that side of things or is it just me? Do you know what happened in my moments like this? He never left me, never was like, “Well fine then. See if I care. I’m out of here!” Let’s face it, that is something we would all be tempted to say, if not straight up shout, were we treated like I treated God. Oh I thought at one particular time He did abandon me which made me even more mad and defiant. Let me say that wasn’t a particularly pretty period for me. Thankfully I was wrong. What had happened was that I had turned off my communication device, shut the door in His face, made myself numb to His presence. I was the one who had done the abandoning, the ignoring and walking away. In that instance, and in ones similar, maybe what changed to bring me out of my pits and ditches will help you too when you find yourself teetering on the edge or maybe have already fallen in. Simply, my perspective changed. While down in the first big pit of my life I started looking for finger and toe holds so I could climb out. I wanted desperately to exit my own self-imposed isolation from Jesus in hopes that I’d find He was in fact real and still there. My perspective changed when I realized Jesus had jumped in the pit with me. He wasn’t standing up top waiting for me to claw myself. Rather He came to me. He started to shine His light in that darkness, leading my hands and feet to those toe and finger holds. Jesus worked with me, side by side, as I climbed out of the pit and, in the process, learned more about myself and Him. What I learned has helped me in the times since then when I’ve stumbled into ditches or been faced with a path in front of me that looked really, really hard to navigate. In those times of sorrow, fear, worry, confusion, frustration and sadness I have known no better survival gear than Jesus.
I’ve spent the last three weeks or so in Psalm 27.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
What struck me this past week is that the enemies, the foes, the attacks mentioned in this Psalm don’t have to be people. They can be our human emotions, the environment in which we find ourself. There is a way to stand up to what wants to bring us down, to what wants to push us into that pit. Hold onto Jesus. Stay near to Him and believe that He loves you, that He is good, that He is on His throne, that this will all end well and put your trust in Him. I love how this Psalm ends standing strong with confidence despite having every reason to fear. “I am still confident of this; I will [emphasis mine] see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”