An earlier version of this post first appeared on Janet Sketchley's blog, Tenacity.
Livestreaming church services. Economic upheaval. Social distancing. Self-isolation. Pandemic.
It’s what we talk about. It’s what we think about. It’s what we pray about—when we can muster the energy to pray.
It seemed like a very good time to focus on some of those things that never change.
Here are 11 things to consider:
We are called to be outwardly focused.
As Christians, we’ve known this all along. But true confession time … Until recently, I didn’t realize just how self-focused I was. Do I really do what I do to 1) honour God and 2) bless others? I want these goals to be my motivation, but too often they haven’t been. These days provide the perfect opportunity to ask God to refine our motives. (All the while, we must extend grace to ourselves and remember that self-care isn’t necessarily selfish or self-centred. See below for further encouragement in these areas.)
There are always opportunities to minister to others.
Even now, there is so much we can do to bless others: post something encouraging on social media; pick up the phone and check on a senior who doesn’t have access to the Internet; offer to drop off groceries to someone who is apprehensive about venturing out. Even with social distancing, there is much we can do for one another.
Turns out our parents and Kindergarten teachers were right; it is nice to share.
This truth needs no explanation except to say there will be people who need financial assistance, a kind word, and/or a smile today. If we have the opportunity, let’s be generous with what we have and trust the Lord to provide for our needs.
We need one another.
Of course, this is another truth we’ve known all along, but it’s crystal clear with the current situation. Kindness and acts of service are crucial. There may be restrictions as to how we can help, but we certainly need one another.
Our healthcare workers need our prayers—as do our government leaders.
There has never been a more important time to add our government leaders and healthcare workers to our prayer list. With the everchanging information about this virus that is circulating—even among the professionals—it’s difficult for them to know what the right thing to do is. They need the Lord’s wisdom and protection. (If you're either a healthcare professional or a government worker, thank you so much for your service!)
During difficult, uncertain times, we have Someone to turn to.
We’ve all gone through difficulty in our life: illness, loss, economic hardships … God was faithful then, and He’s faithful now. When we’re confused, overwhelmed, and struggling to make sense of it all, God invites us to draw near to Him, promising that He will draw near to us (James 4:8).
God loves us.
Don’t you love the fact that the Bible teaches not only that God is loving but also that He is love (1 John 4:7)? We can rest assured of His love when things are going well—and when a worldwide pandemic has changed so much.
God was not taken by surprise.
When the world changes overnight—and sometimes, hour by hour—we don’t feel equipped to keep up. Could any of us have seen ourselves in this situation two months ago? I know I couldn’t. Still, God wasn’t taken by surprise. And whether or not we feel prepared to face the days ahead, He’ll see us through.
No matter what happens in our world, we can rest assured that God never changes.
This is, perhaps, the singular truth that sees me through each day. While my life hasn’t changed all that much, I still sense the heaviness of this new reality. I can vegetate on the couch and watch Netflix and sleep more than usual—or I can trust in our unchanging heavenly Father and seek to accomplish the tasks He has set before me.
We are called to extend grace—to others and to ourselves.
The word should can cause big problems. Of course, the Bible lays out hundreds of clear Shoulds and Should Nots. However, when it comes to facing our current, unprecedented situation, we must be careful how we seek to impose our convictions—even God’s—on others. Even as believers, there are many times we’d be in big trouble if it weren’t for the Lord’s grace and Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. We must remember that many of the people we interact with do not know Jesus as Saviour, which I believe provides the opportunity for us to show them we are Christians by our love—not our judgment.
There is a balance between self-sacrifice and self-care.
We can find several examples in the Scriptures that indicate that we are to put others’ needs ahead of our own. At the same time, we must remember that, unless we care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, we will soon have virtually nothing to offer those the Lord has brought into our life.
May we prayerfully seek God’s perspective in this uncertain times, as in all others.
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor (among other things). Steph is a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio. She and Paralympian Deb Willows are working on a follow-up to Deb's memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. During these uncertain times, Steph is thankful for the new opportunities the Lord is bringing her way. You can connect with her on Facebook, where she spends far too much time: https://www.facebook.com/stephbethnickel