Life has been particularly hard lately and definitely for the past eighteen months. Strained relationships over whether someone has taken the vax or not taken the vax. Anxiety from world events and the unrest in the middle east (again). Frustrations and anger over the leadership or lack of leadership from our government. Natural disasters impacting many lives. Confusion about what is true and what is disinformation. Sadness for families, friends, and neighbors who have lost loved ones because of the virus or the side effects from the vaccination. Changes in how we think about and “do” life has been altered.
A pandemic of fear has risen throughout the world. The spirit of fear (and it is a spirit) has paralyzed many of us like never before in our lifetime. Across the globe we are suffering with mental health issues. It is not just us adults it is our own children. They are suffering too. It is painful to watch. My Pastor says, “there is no pain like kid pain.” It’s true. They are part of us and when they hurt, we hurt too. We feel it. How can we lead and comfort them when we ourselves are struggling to figure out how to maneuver the highs and lows of our emotions which seem to be a consistent pattern these days? In the morning we establish our footing and by noon we are anxious again. Our evenings bring a myriad of thoughts and feelings to process and resolve.
How do we find our way to the other side of this season? Is there a way out? Is there a getting to the “other side” and what in the world does that look like? We are dealing with a lot. This is a new place and time for us to put our trust consistently and methodically in God Almighty. Our fledgling and ill-equipped faith limits our courage, undisturbedness, and steadfastness in ways we have not experienced before. The vulnerabilities in our convictions have been exposed and are blaring back at us accompanied by voices of doubt, angst, and uncertainty.
How do we take personal responsibility to own and change where we have landed in our faith and move to a place of peace and rest with God? This is within our power (and the help of the Holy Spirit) to initiate an adjustment.
Maybe getting to the “other side” of all the current unrest and events of the world is not the endgame – especially for those who are Christ-followers. Maybe the end game is building our faith muscles. Maybe the Father has put us into training. Maybe it is his love and grace like any loving parent would allow their children to face hard things to build grit and resilience as a preparation for the future. It feels like we are being asked to bench press 500 pounds and every week or so more weight is added. We hate this. We groan beneath the brokenness, the evil, and the ambiguity of it all.
What we really want is a return to how things were in 2019 when life was buzzing along, and things seemed great! We want comfort. We want control. We run from discomfort and run to habits and vices that are not in our best interest. Ugh. We anesthetize with food, drink, drug, shopping, gaming, isolation, anything to fix the emptiness, boredom, or pain inside our soul.
What if the answer was to wake up to the fact that we are not as spiritually fit as we thought we were and we became aware of some necessary adjustments needing to shift today? What if today was the day (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to commit to build the sinews of our faith so our spiritual muscles can grow strong and ready for the days ahead? What if your focus became this (what we focus on expands)?
We choose to move from:
Fear to Love
Replace the stronghold of fear with the strong arm of love.
“Perfect love casts out fear.”
1 John 4:18
Anxiety to Peace
Replace the stronghold of anxiety with the strong arm of peace.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Discouragement to Encouragement
Replace the stronghold of discouragement with the strong arm of encouragement.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Despair to Hope
Replace the stronghold of despair with the strong arm of hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Sorrow to Joy
Grieve your pain and build a strong arm of joy
“Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
We are the forerunners for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Let us run our race with excellence, consistency, rest, and preparation. The world needs the hope of Jesus Christ, and we have the privilege of being His ambassadors.
“No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.”
My hope and prayer is for us to slow down and take a moment to evaluate our level of spiritual fitness. What needs to change? How can we make it a priority? I trust God will provide the answers for you – He always does!