After nearly six months of life under COVID our nerves may be getting a little fried and we may not feel all that loving. We’re watching people struggle, we’re struggling. The levels of frustration are rising. We feel it in our homes, in our church and in our community.
The only remedy is God's love. His love is the only thing that allows us to deal with the losses and frustration of having to change our normal lives, and to comfort those hurting around us.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Right now joy doesn’t necessarily feel natural, but we need to fight for joy anyway. Each new day that we are given we have an opportunity to practice joy despite our circumstances. Some of us are suffering greatly. Some are struggling to raise and educate children, work, and maintain a healthy family life. Some marriages are strained. Some of us are coping with mental health issues. There is a very long list of struggles for many people right now, however, if we approach each trial with the joy of the Lord we may also be able to experience peace in the midst of suffering.
Psalms 30:5 NKJV For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
More than anything else lately we want peace. Peace in peace in parenting, in marriage, in ministry, and in our spirits. We want to feel internally and for that peace to be exhibited externally. We should want to be a force of peace to those in our community, and to inspire peace in our family and friends.
There's one thing for sure, we can't self-help or self-care our way to long-lasting consistent peace, COVID-19 has taken care of that.
True peace comes only from God and is embodied in Jesus Christ. As we put our trust in Him the outcome is a peace that passes all understanding.
Philippians 4:7 KJV And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Peace is possible through Him, who is peace. Peace is within reach and as the world continues to spin out of control we must hold fast to that peace.
Patience, Kindness and Goodness
There's so much confusion. Wear a mask, don't wear a mask, go school or distance learning, church services inside, outside, or online, dine inside restaurants, outside dining, or take out, haircuts inside or outside, etc.
We want answers and we want them now. We want action and solutions. We're fed up with all the confusion.
When we’re fed up we tend to run out of patience.
As we deal with the mental fatigue of life during COVID-19 a fair assessment might be that we’ve hit a wall. Not being able to live life like we're used to, not being able to connect with the people we love in ways that we used to, not being able to leave our house without having to remember our masks...it's a lot.
When we run out of patience, kindness and goodness are quick to follow. We’re out of patience so we snap at people. Our fuse is short so we respond critically rather than with grace. We lose our patience so we snap at people.
We lash out on people we don't even know on social media and label people without ever having a conversation.
We need to take a deep breath, slow down, exercise some patience, and kindness and goodness will follow. This kind of patience, at this time can only come through the Holy Spirit.
It’s easy to give in to anxiety or fear as COVID numbers continue to climb, racial tensions continue to escalate, political divides deepen and lines drawn in the sand. There is disunity within the church as well as outside of it.
The church should be the example to the world of unity of all people. Within the church the need for unity is paramount, this doesn't mean that we agree with each other on every subject or are of the exact same mindset on a particular topic, but what it does mean is that we meet on the foundation of faith in Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
Our hope as believers is not ultimately in organizations, political parties or even our pastors. Our hope is in Christ alone and on that foundation of faith in Christ we are transformed.
Colossians 1:27 ERV God decided to let his people know just how rich and glorious that truth is. That secret truth, which is for all people, is that Christ lives in you, his people. He is our hope for glory.
This transformation needs to be visible to the outside world, we must live a life on display.
Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The world is in desperate need of faithfulness, and the church can be conduits of the faith.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Gentleness and Self-Control
As tensions continue to rise our ability to practice gentleness and self-control is becoming more difficult. It’s hard to have a spirit of gentleness and to practice self-control without first having love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.
If we are filled with love, if peace resides within us and we have developed a strong practice of patience, then kindness and goodness will follow.
Psalms 23:6 NIV Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
If we have faith that is being consistently nourished through the spiritual practices of prayer, time in the Word, reflection and community, then being gentle in spirit and having self-control can come easier. Anger can be managed, frustration can be reduced and peace can come when we allow God to take the reins of our lives.
As God becomes bigger in us our capacity for gentleness and self-control will increase. We won't dignify every insult with a response, we won't need to right back at every punch thrown at us. We don’t need to blast people on social media or belittle others. Instead we have the opportunity to lead others by being gentle and kind, and persistent in love and faithfulness.
More of God and less of us!