Nothing like a global pandemic to test your faith. My goal has been to draw closer to God throughout COVID-19, to come through it stronger than when I started. Let me tell ya, it hasn’t been easy! The challenges of loneliness, scarcity, of feeling ineffective and unproductive have come at me hard. Despite my goal of connection with Him, I have felt more adrift in the last few weeks than I’ve felt in a long, long while. Can you relate?
I’ve felt a little like David in the psalms when he says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalms 42 & 43). God has taught me the importance of spiritual bravery, of being willing to face my challenges head on with Him. I knew it was time to get my brave on and start taking a closer look “under the hood.”
I began examining my feelings before God first. I acknowledged the disconnection from Him, the lack of motivation, the doubt of what I should do next. Then, I asked the question that is key to growth: why? Why was I choosing fear and doubt over faith and trust, and the peace that accompanies them?
I immediately thought of 1 Corinthians 14:33 which says, "God is not the author of confusion or disorder, but peace.” I knew that feeling marginalized, bewildered, embarrassed or demoralized were sure signs I was letting the enemy win, not leaning deeply into God.
As I dug in with God, I ultimately realized my time with Him wasn’t a priority. My schedule was running me, not the other way around. And I was succumbing to my desire to understand God’s timing and to have control. But I found the real answer behind the next “why,” the roots that were growing and choking out my faith: fearful pride and a lack of self-worth.
See, I love to be in control. I think if we’re honest, most of us do. I want to know exactly what’s next, how it’s going to play out, and what each step is ahead. But God asks me to trust in His timing, to lean into Him so He can direct me, often one step at a time with nothing else teed up afterwards. That requires me to let go of control—the pride that says I can do it better than God, and the fear that His ways won’t work—and surrender to Him.
But here’s what bravery has taught me. I am so much happier when I open up my hands and give the leadership of my life back up to Him. The truth is I really don’t like being in control anymore. All it does is grow my lack of self-worth and confidence. Yet old habits die hard, and my power to consistently surrender comes from tying firmly into my power source: God.
In the midst of the pandemic, what can I control with God? What do I need to let go of or what rights do I need to give up? And how can I choose to respond differently?
I prayed, and together God and I crafted a plan. I can start directing my schedule instead of letting my schedule direct me. Making God my priority is crucial, and setting time aside for our relationship each day is something I can control. I had to let go of my need to know the entire process now, and all the obsessing and worry that accompany it. I had to let go of my right to give into my emotions and let them dominate me. Together, we landed on what I need to do differently with my time moving forward.
Finally, I had to look at my triggers. What comes my way that trips me up and gets me self-focused and fearful again? How can I begin to respond differently moving forward?
For me, the answer was praise. Remember that scripture I shared from King David about “why so downcast?” He follows that up with, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” I choose praise in the form of counting my blessings, looking for the good around me, reminding myself of what is true about God and about me through bible study and scripture, listening to praise songs and singing to the Lord myself—these are all ways to praise Him. And I’m asking the people in my life I trust, my Wise Advisors, to hold me accountable to it.
Then, like David, I know I will say, “You did everything you promised, and I am thanking you with all my heart. For you have saved me from death, and my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life” (Psalm 56:12-13 MSG).
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT In these unprecedented times, everyday bravery is more important than ever. I want to encourage you today to tackle the emotions you are battling with from a perspective of faith. Don’t run from the challenges. Face them head on. Make an action plan with God, dealing with what’s going on inside first before putting steps into place. Remember two key scriptures:
· “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
· “Give us each day our daily bread: (Luke 11:3)
Take it one day at a time. Get real with God. Not only can He handle it, He can lead you to a place of peace.
PRAYER Father, thank you for your goodness and faithfulness to me. When I am tempted to pick up the reins of my life again, remind me of your great victories in my life and in the lives of so many all around me. When I feel alone, may I feel your comforting presence. When I catch myself tanking, help me reach toward you in praise. Remind me of my blessings, and that ultimately this world is not my home. Thank you for your steadfast loyalty to me, especially when I am undeserving. You are so, so good! Thank you for the joy of your presence and the blessing of walking in communion with you. Amen.
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