Perhaps you are one of those struggling to maintain a calm exterior when inside, you are cracking. There is an oh so subtle shift away from the usual calmness you exude to a place of unfamiliarity; a place of shaking, dismay and anxiety.
Perhaps the shaking and dismay is normal to you; the cracking begins in a place deep within called hope. Hope that someday anxiety won’t be your companion, that someday you will know calm as normal. But today, it feels like forever. Forever until this uneasiness passes and the trajectory of your life can return to normal.
My initial days of isolation were filled with the activity of acclimating to home and helping with my granddaughters. Thursday dawned quiet and I was alone. Alone with my thoughts and the heaviness of the current reality. I, too, longed for normal – whatever that is – to return. I felt my foot slipping as I grasped for some thread of hope in the day.
It was at that moment that I had a choice to make. I had to choose what I would focus on, where would I put my hope, what I would meditate on throughout the day. Just like every day, I got to choose where I fixed my eyes. I could fill my mind with news reports, internet stories, Facebook posts, stock reports, messages of chaos. Or I could fill my mind with messages that build me up, that express and inspire hope. This is what I did.
I called my sister. Not only is she my biological sister, she is a sister in faith. We talked about many things unrelated to COVID-19. We shared our latest sewing projects, antics of our children, personal health updates and then we did the most important thing: we prayed together. We prayed over our families and our nation. We spoke blessing over one another and gratitude to our Father in heaven. We need one another.
I sat with scripture. Specifically, I read Psalm 91 out loud in the first person. Let me tell you, that is powerful. I may have read it more than once. And it renewed my faith and calmed my spirit. Then I turned to 2 Chronicles 20 and read it. And my faith grew a bit more and my spirit came to rest in the mighty hands of God. We need the Word of God.
I listened to music. We live at a time where we have access to resources like never before. At any time I can find music that lifts up the name of Jesus and speaks faith into my heart. Not only can we access music, but podcasts and messages of faith and truth abound. We need positive messages.
Yesterday in this blog, I started unpacking 2 Chronicles 20. It is so relevant for every day, but specifically for this day. Jehoshaphat’s response to a terrifying situation is instructive for us today. Can I respond like he did?
Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help. Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. He prayed…
Jehoshaphat received news that three of his enemies had banded together and were coming against him. He was terrified. I think we understand that feeling. We’ve also experienced the gripping fist of terror. We are asking what will happen? How long with this last? Will it ever be the same again? Will we survive?
How did he respond to the terror that gripped his heart? First, he looked to God for guidance. He didn’t trust himself and what he could see, but he appealed to the One who could see it all stretched out from beginning to end. Secondly, he called on the community to respond to the news. We are in this together. As a community, as humanity, we band together to respond to the news of invading armies. Finally, he prayed. Before he acted, he prayed.
He could have called the people to fasting and prayer and then gone into the war room to prepare for battle. After all, he asked the people to pray. But he didn’t. He prayed! Before he moved, before he strategized, before he saddled the horses and hooked up the chariots, HE PRAYED!
What is your response to messages that bring terror to your heart? Are you falling before God to pray? Are you asking him to guide your heart? Are you filling your mind with messages of his love and care for you? What meditations run through your mind?
These are all elements you control. No one can force you to live in terror. No one can force you to meditate on the “what ifs” and “oh nos!” You can choose to meditate on the “But, He can!” and “He knows!” “He loves me!” “I am his!”
We are in this together. Take heart!
Read Psalm 91 in the first person out loud. Ask the Father to open your heart to the truth of his Word and fill you with his peace.