Have you ever felt like you’re on the backside of the desert or in some twisted form of an apocalyptic wasteland? Do you feel a bit isolated and irritated in your struggle with the COVID dilemma?
Of course, you’re pretty sure God hasn’t abandoned you or moved out of your reach.
But . . .
You feel empty and dry.
Confused and depressed.
Shaken and angry.
And you wonder if life will ever get better, let alone back to some semblance of normal.
Yeah, me too.
Like I recently wrote, I’ve never been through a season like this one. Our church building was closed for three months, we are in a global pandemic, a worldwide recession, and civil unrest continues.
Many people are frustrated with the present and profoundly worried about the future. All of this has left a lot of us—including me—scratching our head and wondering, “Is the end near?”
It’s probably not the end of the world, but it’s definitely the end of the world as we know it (and I don’t feel fine).
That being said, I’m going to give you some practical things I encourage you to do now more than ever. We can do very little—if anything—to change the crazy circumstances surrounding us, but we can alter our perspective and attitude.
1. Remember God’s goodness and faithfulness in times past.
When miracles are happening, everybody’s happy, but staying on track in the valley of the shadow of death ain’t easy. I know. But the key to your survival is to remember.
Remember those other times when you were hurting and afraid, but God held you close.
Remember those moments when you thought all was lost, but God rescued you.
Remember the days (or years) you wandered, but now you look back and see that you were never alone.
Remember God’s presence and His power in your life, and then reflect on the reality that God has not changed even though our world has changed a lot.
2. Recognize we all live in a broken world all of the time.
Yes, the current situation is challenging, but since the fall, there’s never been a time that our world was perfect. Problems, plagues, pestilence, poverty, and plights have always been with us (and utopia isn’t just around the corner).
You can blame God, but we humans are responsible for our rebellion and the current state of affairs.
So that’s the problem; what’s the solution? Repentance leading to restoration, renewal, and revival is desperately needed.
Maybe it’s time we own our sin and deal with the log in our eye.
Perhaps the way out of the wilderness is to stop resisting what God is trying to teach us.
The best life-lessons are generally learned in a time and place we’d never choose.
3. Release your unmet expectations to God’s care.
God knows you and your situation better than you do. Yep, when things don’t go as expected, it sucks. Unmet expectations always lead to emotional upheaval.
But trusting God means entrusting your entire life to Him regardless of your circumstances.
God never promised to explain everything about everything to us. He did, however, tell us He would never leave or forsake us.
Releasing what you want, and your demand for answers is the path to peace. Keep in mind, on this side of eternity, we only know in part.
4. Remove a complaining heart and mouth from your life.
It’s easy to grumble, but does murmuring change anything? We like to call it venting, but it’s a lot more like emotionally vomiting.
Complaining is like cement in our soul; it tends to harden our negativity, not fix it.
Just three days after Moses led God’s people through the Red Sea, the Word says, “The people grumbled to Moses, ‘What are we going to drink?’” (Exodus 15:24).
Israel was quick to forget what God had done for them through Moses. When things got tough, the Israelites complained. Their default during their time in the wilderness was: “When in doubt, grumble.”
As Rick Warren says, “One minute Moses was a hero, the next he was a zero.” But Pastor Rick also points out, “God is the master of reversing hurt. Disappointments are really His-appointments.”
I wonder what would happen in our church and our cities if we talked as much about Jesus as we do Covid-19?
5. Remain committed to your call and God’s purposes in your life.
Solomon wrote that when you lose a clear vision for your future, you wander astray, cast off what’s good for you, and live out of control. That’s why it’s so important to see and embrace God’s vision for your life.
You can quit, but it’s best to stay the course.
You can give up, but maybe God is about to do His greatest work in and through you.
You can lose focus—or worse—remained fixated on what you think is a falling sky, but the God of the universe isn’t baffled or confused by all that is happening.
He has a plan.
He has a purpose.
He has you.
Be more like Jesus who endured a fate far worse than COVID—the cross—because He knew what we too often forget: Joy and a crown are coming to those who persevere.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.