Spiritual Perspectives In Unnerving Times
I remember making goals at the beginning of the year, thinking “This is going to be an amazing year! It’s 2020, the beginning of a new decade! There must be something special about this year.” If someone was to tell me that we would be in pandemic, social distancing, lining up outside of groceries stores, etc., I would think they are a little out of it. That sounds more like the movie Contagion if you ask me. But here I am, working on virtual devotionals and connecting with friends and family online. This is what is now coined as “the new normal.”
And if you are anything like me, you want this situation to change, right away! You pray it only lasts a couple weeks. You pray it could all just end so things can go back to…well, the “real normal.” But the truth is, that’s just not realistic at the moment. There’s not much we could do to make Covid-19 go away overnight. We can certainly help flatten the curve by social distancing, but for the most part, the situation we are in is out of our control. And when things are out of our control, we become frustrated at our own inability to change the situation and impatient at that things aren’t changing fast enough!
So what are we to do? How do we respond to this storm we are in? You surrender. Oh man, surrender? Yes. Surrender. We need to let go of the things we can’t control and focus on the things we can control: how we respond to the situation.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
At the time Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was on house arrest. You could say he was “social distancing” (so to speak), but of course, his conditions were much more uncomfortable than most of ours at the moment. He was in jail in a foreign country for proclaiming the message of the gospel. But take note of Paul’s heart. He was surrendered. There was not much he could do to change his situation, but he made sure that his situation didn’t change him into a bitter, frustrated, and impatient prisoner. He found strength in Christ through surrender. Not only was he surrendered, he was also joyful, at peace, and grateful that God was using his situation to exalt the name of Jesus to everyone around him. Even more, he used the opportunity to encourage and edify his friends in Philippi. Wow. Talk about selflessness!
Paul’s joy didn’t come from how good or bad his situation was. It came from his position in Jesus. Paul was rooted in Jesus and found every ounce of strength through His divine power. Let’s imitate his example and fix our eyes on Jesus, the one who provides us with everything we need to live a life that glorifies him, even through the toughest of situations.
In the same letter, he also says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-9
Let’s also bring our anxieties and frustrations about our current situation to him in prayer. We can’t carry these burdens on our own, so let’s not hold on to them any longer. Let them go; pour it all out to God and let him carry them for you! And what happens next is something only God can grant us: Peace that transcends understanding. This type of peace is contagions, a peace that comforts those who can’t seem to find it anywhere else.
Spend some time thanking God for how good he is and how much he has done for you. With all the difficulties we are experiencing, it’s important to also acknowledge the blessings.
Let’s also spend some time in prayer and petition for the urgent needs in our world and for those hurting the most.
Paul used his letter to thank his friends in Philippi, but also to encourage them in the faith. Take some time today to encourage someone (whether it’s a call, text, FaceTime, etc.)
Stu Escalona BA March 2020