Psalm 27:1 (NLT) 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
The Lord is near you right now. He’s not far off, not absent, not unaware. He’s right with you. Don’t be afraid!
Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
From: “4 Ways to Keep it Together When Your Life is Falling Apart” by Cindi McMenamin
Are you one to crumble at life’s circumstances? Or do you allow them to make you stronger?
When life brings something painful or you simply feel like your life is falling apart, how you respond makes all the difference in the world.
You and I can either react emotionally and escalate the drama of the situation. Or we can respond biblically and grow through it.
The drama that life brings is inevitable. Yet how we respond to it determines whether or not it will be fruitful in our lives in conforming us to the image of Christ. Our response to the drama also determines whether God gets the glory or we shine the spotlight on our frailties, insecurities, and emotional instability.
With help from God’s Word, plus some practical guidance, you and I can be drama free – even when the unthinkable happens. Even when life takes an unexpected turn and you are caught in an overwhelming whirlwind of circumstances that would make any person lose it.
C - Consider the bigger picture.
Life – and therefore every circumstance you encounter – is meant to conform you to the image of Christ. We know this because Romans 8:28-29 tells us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Once you consider this, you can relax and realize God knows what He’s doing in the circumstances He’s allowing. And you can focus on passing the test, rather than failing it through unnecessary drama.
A – Acknowledge God is in control.
You are not at the whim of the weather or the most likely predicted outcome. You are not going to consider “averages” or statistics. You are going to trust the God of miracles and whatever He decides to do or not do, for your greater good. Try taking a look at God’s track record in the stories of the Bible. People went through trial after trial, but when they acknowledged God’s control and remained faithful to Him in spite of their circumstances, they experienced deliverance, protection, comfort, and peace. God has an excellent track record of honoring those who trust Him.
L – Look for the lesson.
The lessons are everywhere. And sometimes they aren’t the ones you think. Ask God to show you what He wants you to see in the moment, and then stay tuned to His instruction. I find it is helpful, and a reminder to me that God is working in my life, when I say aloud, “God, show me what You want me to see in this situation” or, “Mold me through this, God,” or, “Open my eyes to the truth of Who You are through this situation and my pain.” Maybe your short prayer is simply, “Change me through this, Lord Jesus.” By acknowledging that God is doing something through our situation, we won’t miss the lesson.
M – Make it a point to praise.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are instructed to “give thanks in all circumstances: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Note that command says in all circumstances, even the unexpected, uncomfortable, and unwanted circumstances. As we thank God for our circumstances – and for whatever He determines to do through them – it will change our perspective and make us people who anticipate His provision, rather than dread the worst. That is displaying faith, rather than demonstrating fear or doubt.
From "5 Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Waste Your COVID-19 Experience" by Rachel Baker
The headlines are heartbreaking, and the fear of uncertainty can be completely overwhelming.
In times of duress we must cling to the Lord more than ever. As we hold fast, we also have the opportunity to learn from this season.
Here are 5 helpful suggestions to help ensure that as Christ-followers we are the calm in the storm and the example of God’s steadfast peace and love for this world.
Our God is not a God of waste—and so we should not waste our experiences during this time. Even the darkest of days He can and will use for His glory.
1. Keep an Eternal Perspective
The despair our country is feeling is now amplified by COVID-19, racial tensions and a state of unrest. When all feels lost, focusing on the Word of God and setting our gaze upon the eternal can help to bring peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT2)11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Understanding that eternity is in the heart of all who follow Christ helps to bring light to the darkness of today’s circumstances. It is only normal for us to want healing for the sick and solutions to our suffering.
It is normal to cry out to God and implore him to move in big and powerful ways. And cry out we should, but in our lamenting and pleading we must also remember to cast our gaze upon the eternal.
Colossians 3:2 (NLT2)2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
With problems so immense, we have seen our need for a big and powerful God. Keep your eternal perspective so you don’t lose sight of this constant need.
2. Acknowledge Your Troubles, but Never Lose Hope
Setting our minds on the eternal in no way negates the struggle and suffering that mankind experiences this side of Heaven. Suffering is synonymous with a fallen world. Where there is sin so too will there be suffering.
Jesus himself warns us that there will be troubles in this world; trouble is the result of our sinful natures.
John 16:33 (NLT2)33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Understanding that there will be trouble prepares us in advance for suffering. We will experience it, as individuals and as a collective.
So many of us are walking through suffering right now. I’ve not met a single person who has escaped it. Having an expectation that we will suffer does not need to translate into a doom and gloom outlook on life, however.
Even within our troubles, we find joy and beauty. Within the dark and heavy headlines of late there have been stories of triumph and mankind showing up for one another.
We have experienced firsthand a collective grief, and should learn to expect suffering as part of being human, even long after this crisis has passed.
We must acknowledge our troubles but, through setting our sights on the eternal, prevail over them.
Psalm 30:5 (NLT2)5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
3. Continue Caring for Your Neighbors
Many churches had to close their doors at the beginning of COVID-19; most have yet to reopen. Despite the building being closed the church has shown up for one another and is learning a new way to be the church.
Well, we are learning the original way that the church functioned.
Luke 10:27 (NLT2)27 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
During life under the restrictions of COVID and the protests against racial injustice many members of the church have become more intentional in developing a deeper relationship with their neighbors and community.
The church is still alive and well within the spirits of those who call Jesus Lord, we are just showing up differently.
These times have forced us to take a good long look at our neighbors, our actual neighbors, and help each other out. Our communities are slowly working towards a new normal and restrictions are being reduced. Though life may be returning to “normal” or some semblance of “new normal” it shouldn’t mean that we stop engaging and helping our neighbors and the people closest to us geographically.
How beautiful could it be if we kept showing up for each other. What if we continued to check in on our neighbors, or get to know them for the first time? We can allow these lessons to guide us to being better neighbors.
Ultimately, connecting in with our communities on the grounds of neighborly love is not only transformative, but an imperative.
4. Keep Developing Your Contemplative Practice
In times of trouble leaning on the Word of God can be a force of calm in our lives. As believers, the Bible should be our manual for life, its words are alive and convicting, they guide us and grow us spiritually.
But there is something incredible that happens when we hold fast to the Word in times of trouble, there is a calming and quieting that takes place the more we cling to the word and allow our hearts, minds and souls to be changed by it.
We, as humans, can manipulate the Bible to fit our agendas and purposes. What if, rather than trying to use God’s holy word to justify our own behaviors we allowed ourselves to be guided and informed by it?
To be informed by the word we must develop a contemplative practice of both reading the word and seeking the Holy Spirit in our lives. This requires quiet, prayer, an open heart and contemplation.
It requires us to do some digging into our own preconceived notions about how life should be. We need to ask, “What does God say about this issue?”
Right now, while the world feels like it's spinning off axis, perhaps our time is best spent in deep and contemplative time in the Word and prayer.
If the current circumstances of life have taught me anything, they have taught me to cling to the Word and stay diligently in prayer.
5. Seek God’s Wisdom over the World’s
The world wants us to react. “Be afraid,” the headlines prompt, “hide in fear, exhaust yourself with panic.” What if, instead of fear and panic, all believers were a force of calm and serenity?
What if we responded to the rash and risky with wisdom and discernment.
We can absolutely be aware of and prepared for times of trouble, whether it be widespread illness or civil unrest, but rather than giving into fear and responding like everyone else we have an opportunity to seek God’s wisdom over the world’s. God’s ways are higher, His wisdom surpassing of time and space. When we look to the world to solve its own brokenness we are going to be left wanting.
Proverbs 3:5 (NLT2)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Often we want to show up to the conversations and contribute to the dialogues of our society. Certainly, there are times where that is absolutely what God calls us to, but before we ever share our voice with this world we must first quiet ourselves before God.
When the world wants us to react, sit first with God.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT2)33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
For as much as we all want this season of uncertainty to be behind us let’s make sure this time has not been wasted. The deep work of spiritual growth is at our fingertips, we only need to press in.
And, on those days when our bodies, hearts and souls feel weighted down and heavy with fatigue, call on the Lord.
Matthew 11:28 (NLT2)28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.