SIX WAYS I HOPE TO LIVE AND GROW DURING COVID-19

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The world is in crisis. We’re all being forced to change. As my pastor shared in our online Bible study tonight, we can become frustrated with circumstances, people, and ultimately God.

This week I transitioned from being a classroom professor to an online teacher, from an office to working at home, from unloading a car full of groceries to wondering if my wife will find what we need next time she goes shopping, from a familiar routine to what in the world will happen next.

As I began today I thought about how I should live and grow during the uncertain times ahead. I can be frustrated, discouraged, anxious, grouchy, and lazy. Or I can meet each day and every new challenge with positive attitudes and practices I develop by God’s grace. I made a list of qualities I hope to display during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Flexibility – A statement came to mind today: During this crisis I intend to maintain the essentials and embrace change. I will keep doing the things that should never change – basic attitudes and practices of life. But I will eagerly learn new things and adjust to the new normal that life presents right now.

During this crisis I intend to maintain the essentials and embrace change.

Self-Discipline – When routine goes away, good habits and practices can drop too. I can easily allow important disciplines to suffer. Working by myself diminishes accountability. I intend to follow a schedule, maintain my task list, work when it’s time to work, rest when it’s time to rest, and be careful about wasting time.

Creativity – Life will likely be less busy with many activities curtailed, leading to more discretionary time. I want to enjoy a simpler life, but also invest free hours in creative endeavors. This may include writing, home projects, or who knows what. Hopefully some of it will be lasting and will benefit others. According to Phil Cooke, “having your world turned upside down can often be the best spark for your creativity.”

According to Phil Cooke, “Having your world turned upside down can often be the best spark for your creativity.”

Learning – The end of college as we know it (at least for a while) has pushed me to learn new skills, technology, and methods. Great! That will make me a better teacher. I will learn more during the weeks ahead about myself, my marriage, the subjects I teach, the world, crises, and hope. I’m ready. Educate me!

Love – Speaking of marriage, this crisis will test relationships. Spouses and kids used to being together only a few hours a day will tire of each other fast or learn to love more deeply. My wife and I do a lot together, but both of us working at home will take that to a new level. I believe my love for her will grow. I also intend to show love in needed and new ways to my mother who lives with us, neighbors, and church family members.

Trust – I’ve never really had a problem with Jesus’ instruction to “not be anxious about tomorrow.” Until this week. I’m not worried about getting sick and dying. Of course I would grieve deeply were that to happen to someone I love. But I know the One who died and rose again has prepared a place for me and will take me there when I die. No problem there. It’s living I worry about! I find myself anxious about daily needs and how bad conditions will get. So I plan to grow my faith in God’s promises and care. I will pray for Him to take care of me and those I love. I trust He will be the good Father I know Him to be.

How do you plan to live and grow in these tumultuous times? Tell me about it in the comments.

53 thoughts on “SIX WAYS I HOPE TO LIVE AND GROW DURING COVID-19”

  1. Thank for the thoughts Dr. Taylor.

    Both flexibility and love are categories that greatly impact my life during COVID-19. The pandemic requires embracing unique opportunities to minister in local churches. The churches I attend in Iowa and in Minnesota will not be gathering for the next few weeks. I am hoping to be involved with both of them in moving services online in order to connect quarantined members to the preaching of God’s Word. Personal ministry will prove more difficult, but I am hoping to stay in contact with individuals both within and outside the church. COVID-19 is reminding us that the church is not a location where we gather, but the body of Christ composed of His redeemed. Ministry in the church transcends pandemics.

    Participating in academics from home brings its own challenges. One of these challenges is being available to my family. My family’s response to me being home (especially my siblings) is “Hooray, Joe is home! Let’s play.” My response is more narcissistic, “Yes, but I’m busy!” God will be using this situation to teach me to sacrificially love my family by adjusting my schedule to fit theirs when necessary. This transition requires that I “redeem the time”-this specific opportunity-by ministering to my family. I must embrace interruptions in love, not shun opportunities in selfishness.

    God will be faithful to complete the good work that He started in all of us. He is ever present, steadfast in His love, and abounding in comfort. To God be the glory!

  2. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for sharing these areas of growth.

    As I am home for the remainder of the semester, I have been placed in a position by God to recognize my utter dependence on Him moment by moment. Things back home are in a constant state of change. Anxiety or complacency are easy responses that I can have in these moments. However, I have to be actively trusting and obeying Him in these moments and taking each step, in the moment, by faith.

    All of the areas that you have talked about are areas that I have to work on as well. The category of love is at the forefront. With the new situation, I am home with my family and share a room with my brother. I can easily go into that state of just keeping to myself and worrying about all the homework I have to get done but I have to remember that God has sovereignly placed me here, with my family. I have to opportunity to love and serve them in a way I could not while I was at school. In this time, we are going to see a lot of each other. This means there is a lot of time to serve them.

    During this time where all of my friends are split up from one another and myself, I have another opportunity to love. It was really easy to talk to each other in the dorms. It was easy to walk into someone’s room and have conversation. It was easy to have discipleship with them. It will be easy to go two weeks without speaking to each other on a personal level. Now is the time of being really intentional. I must be in order to continue to help grow our relationships.

    Overall, in this situation and every situation God is sovereign and is sitting on His throne. God is still a God of grace. God is still growing me in Christ and completing His work and using this situation for His glory.

  3. This article is an awakening call for this crisis, most notably when everything is going in the opposite direction. I thank God for giving you such an inspirational and motivational word prompting us to look ahead despite the situation.
    I’m inspired and challenged to press on. Thanks Dr. Taylor.

  4. Thank you Dr. Taylor!

    These principles are a refreshing reminder about what is important in these strange times. It’s very easy to lose sight of our priorities, tasks, and even our focus on the One who has sovereignly ordained all things for His good pleasure. As I reflect on ways to grow during this new chapter in life, I’m reminded of the importance of faithfulness, peace, hope, and love. In the days ahead, I will faithfully pursue Jesus in His Word. I will find peace in the promises of His Word. I can exercise hope in the glorious return of my Savior. I can love others by being a light for Christ.

    Furthermore, in my personal devotions I’ve been studying 2 Thessalonians and I have been challenged to earnestly pray for the advancement of the gospel for the glory of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we eagerly wait for the day when we will share in the glory of our Savior. So even in hard times like these, the gospel will advance and I need to partake of the blessings in sharing the glorious message of our Lord.

  5. You are welcome Stanley. Lord bless you as you shepherd your flock through these challenging times.

  6. This article is a great challenge to me to continue the walk with my God while in a new situation in an environment that has not historically been a place that I tend to thrive in my walk with God. However, if I implement all of these practices in my daily life regardless of the environment, I will grow and be a better example to my family.

    The section that particularly challenged me was the section on self-discipline, I tend to become lazy and apathetic; however, if I am active in my discipline, I can avoid these pitfalls of change.

    Thank you for these words of challenge and encouragement Dr. Taylor.

  7. Great way to put our world into perspective. These times are not easy, but they are not impossible either. God is still in control and He will never leave us. This article truly challenged me in the way I think of this conflict. Not being able to go home, nor go to a place with family is hard, but God is with me. I am not alone, even when it seems that way. God is teaching everyone a lesson. Each person might have a different lesson, but He is teaching. For me, it is being content with where I am at. GOD IS IN CONTROL!! All I must do is watch and pray.

    Many, many thanks for these words. They were a tremendous blessing to me.

  8. We are all faced with a totally new way to live out our lives and faith. These reminders are very helpful as we all move forward into rather unknown territory. I am encouraged to see that you are acknowledging these areas in your life that will be challenged by the new lifestyle we all must adopt for this season. This has challenged me to look at my life and the new circumstances that I am in and recognize the challenges that I will be facing! I pray that by God’s grace I will continue to grow and be transformed into the image of His son every day! Being home only a few days, I have already started to see the opportunity to respond in the flesh and in reading this article and hearing your testimony I have been challenged to continue faithfully and yield myself to the working of the Spirit.
    In all of the uncertainty of the times, I know that God is in control and What He ordains is always good!

  9. I really resonate with the last point you made in the article. Times of change are often the greatest opportunities that God gives us to learn to trust in Him. It is easy when maintaining a routine to lean upon our own past experiences and when God removes that routine, he exposes our self-dependence. In one sense then, it is an act of God’s grace in this time to lead us in a direction that we did not expect, and it is by His grace that we will learn to be more dependent upon Him in the future. God is still leading, and He will bring us closer to Him in time as a result of all of this, we must humbly submit ourselves to His will and trust in Him as He leads us into unknown territory with fears surrounding us all the time. Keep our eyes on Jesus and He will lead us through.

  10. Great thoughts and reminders. I often find myself trying to trust God with various trials and challenges. I must remind myself every day that He is in control and I can trust Him. I also appreciated the idea of flexibility. I find myself to be flexible but God is truly showing me that I’m not as flexible as I thought through all this going on. Through this trial, God keeps showing me His strength and sovereignty. To God be the glory!

  11. Thank you so much, Dr. Taylor, for sharing.

    I do believe that the God we serve is sovereign. He’s in total control of the affairs of men and the affairs of nations. During this season of global crisis, I will trust Him and lean on all of His promises even more. We (believers) do love the Lord and many of us even know his word, but when we encounter a situation that is beyond our control, sometimes our faith stagger. But we need to stand firm on His word, trust in His promises and look up to Him during this time for His intervention. This is what I am doing and will continue to do in this time of trails. Thanks again Dr. Taylor for these inspiring thoughts.

  12. This article speaks to a very real need right now. When our world gets turned upside down, we don’t want to regress. We should instead try to view it as an opportunity and continue to thank God for the ways in which He brings us closer to Him.

    I love the quote, “During this crisis I intend to maintain the essentials and embrace change.” Maintaining the essentials will give us a sense of stability; God is referred to as our Rock, drawing our minds to a picture of stability. We should continue to seek communion with Him in our prayer, Bible-reading, journaling, etc… Hopefully the changing circumstances that we’re surrounded by cause us to have an increased appetite for these disciplines. Maintaining the essentials should complement an embrace of change. We are creatures of habit and change is hard to get used to, but think of all the new opportunities to love God and our neighbors that have come out of this already! I’ve seen incredible responses from people as they seek to help out those who are struggling during this time. I’ve seen incredible responses from Christians who couldn’t meet together to worship on Sunday. God is working through this!

  13. Thank you for this encouragement Dr. Taylor.
    Flexibility and trust have been the the two greatest tests so far. Flexibility with a different school environment, a new schedule, new roommates, and different learning styles. This flexibility has tested my patience with all of the moving parts and has pushed me to trust in God. With having to figure out how to go with the flow of all that’s going on, but God is the rock on which I can place everything and myself. During time where everything in the future seems to e tossed in the air or hanging in the balance, I can remember that God has everything under control and he has everything under control in my own specific future.
    These areas of growth are going to have growing pains and will require quicker growth than what I would probably like, but I must return to the fact that dependence on and glory of God is what God is looking for in this time.

  14. Your point about love really spoke to me. Having spent very little time with my family in the past two years as well as living in a new place has made it a bit challenging to connect with people. It is difficult to live out the love of Christ in difficult situations with people that you barely even know.

  15. I definitely resonate with your point on self-discipline. With a new church, house, and state I have been forced to change how I do life. Now with this virus my life has changed even more. New forms of self-discipline more important then ever.

  16. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for this insightful article. I appreciate your openness and wisdom.

    I believe self-discipline or time management is an area all of us will have to wrestle with. As you mentioned, there is not as must accountability as we spend more time at home or isolated from others. These abnormal circumstances will force me to work at making the most of my time and being productive even when no one is looking over my shoulder so to speak. This will require creativity and flexibility, two concepts you also mentioned.

    Another area I believe I will grow in during this time is patience. As people around me get anxious and fearful, wondering what will happen to them, I must learn to be patient and loving. If I am patient with others, I can point them to God as a source of peace and balance in these chaotic and uncertain times.

  17. Thank you for this article Dr. Taylor!

    I loved the insights you thought of during this time and I found it encouraging that even though times are hard now, God is in control and we don’t need to worry about tomorrow.

    All the topics you mentioned are definitely things we should all consider how to improve in and learn how to better serve God through.

    For myself, I believe I will grow through this time because of plans I had that God is changing even now. It’s crazy to think how things can seem out of control for us, but that for God it is not. Thank you for bringing these things up and giving us some thoughts to consider moving forward.

  18. Thank you so much for your encouragement and challenge Dr. Taylor.
    As I think of the coming days it’s kind of hard to see what will happen next. Plans keep changing and it’s been hard at times to see why. I look forward to seeing what God does and I’m praying that I will continue to grow closer to Him and trust in Him even in these strange and confusing times. Your flexibility and self-discipline points as well we’re challenging and helpful because of the same reasons. As change is happening, it’s going to be hard to continue on my usual and familiar routine and I hope to continue and grow closer to God in these aspects as well.

  19. Dear Dr. Taylor,

    Thank you for your thoughts in the midst of such a life-altering situation. I am once again reminded of my selfish inclinations when it comes to the use of my time. I am so quick to cherish it and elevate it to the point of missing out on opportunities to serve God and others. I would certainly appreciate prayer in using any extra time I have to bless others and deepen my relationship with God. I appreciate your openness about your walk with God and your love for us!

    Christopher Said

  20. What a great article and reminder of where to put our trust during this time.

    It is indeed hard to be flexible during this during this period of change and uncertainty. No-one wanted to leave school or move to online classes, which makes it is hard to be flexible and open to this adjustment. You were absolutely right when you wrote “I will keep doing the things that should never change”. The unchangeable truths we hang onto as Christians are what will keep us steady through the hard times ahead of us. This does not just apply to the current situation but to every situation we go through in life.

    You also wrote that we need to “embrace change” and you are so right. It is so easy just to endure the current situation but not commit to it in a way that allows God to work through it. This ties into the idea of trusting God. It can be difficult to trust God enough to believe that he has a plan and reason for COVID-19. If we truly believe this then we need to embrace it as truth and live accordingly in faith and trust.

    Thank you for this article Dr. Taylor. It truly was an encouragement and blessing to my life in quarantine.

    Josiah Luke Brown

  21. Dr. Taylor

    Thank you for such an encouraging response during these times. I definitely think that when it comes to change, the focus is actually how you are going to respond. What are you going to do? Are you going to stray towards worry or fear? Or discouragement, anxiety, or frustration? I’m am so thankful that we can lean on God who never changes and is always guiding us through change. We should ask am I going to trust in the Lord through this time? Am I going to be reminded of who He is and what His Word says about Him? Am I going to walk in obedience to Him as the world falls apart? So I think the heart of the matter is how we respond to the situations and events that God brings into our lives.

    I’m also encouraged that you look to setting goals or qualities of change as you embrace the change that’s going on around you. I think one or two things that I would work on would be how to be creative at where I am at. I can see myself doing some work or activities that I wouldn’t be able to do at school that would help me in my character. A second thing that I think would be the most difficult would be self-discipline. It’s a challenge to be able to construct a time and schedule to make the best use of or follow. Like you said, when routines go away, good habits and practices drop too. I will seek to use my time in a manner that is beneficial to disciplining myself to please God and for His glory.

  22. When I saw self-discipline on the list of ways to grow, I immediately recognized that I too can grow in this area. I am a procrastinator by nature, so I normally have to fight that desire in order to get my schoolwork done on time. With being at home for school, I’ll need to be extra mindful to not fall into the trap of procrastination.

  23. Dr. Taylor,

    Thank you for being transparent and listing the ways in which you struggle and intend to grow through this situation. I am one who can become very anxious when faced with unfamiliar circumstances. As you pointed out, trusting in God And leaning not on our own understanding is one way I can grow in this time.
    Another is self discipline. My house at home is usually chaotic with all the people running around, there is always things going on and it can be hard to focus and do what I need to do. I can grow in my self discipline during this time as well.

  24. Thanks for sharing those thoughts Dr. Taylor. I have a some goals in common with you during this time. I would like to be flexible and self-disciplined. God has revealed to me some of the ways/areas that tend to waste time, and I’m thankful for the forgiveness Christ offers, and the opportunity to do a better job of using my time for Him. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and giving concrete ways to think about how God can get the most glory out of this situation.

  25. Thank you, Dr. Taylor for the reminders.

    I am thankful that though an event such as this may be unprecedented in many of our lives, it is not unprecedented to our God. God as “the Ancient of Days” has been on my mind and heart recently as our lives have been shaken up. This may be new to us, yet we serve the same God of Scripture, Who has faithfully kept His people when they could not keep themselves.

    No time is guaranteed to us, and Covid-19 should not be the only thing teaching me that. Christ is coming, and the need for spiritual discipline and discipleship remains. What we do with the time will count for eternity.

  26. Thank you for this great article,

    I was greatly encouraged by all these thoughts. Your points on trust really resonated with me. With everything changing around us each day it is very important to trust in the person who never changes, God. He is still and always has been in control and that is something that can be very encouraging during these different times. Your points on self-discipline also stuck out to me, because with all church activities and other things being cancelled in the area, it can be easy to waste time doing nothing. So I know that I need to keep being diligent in the Word and in my studies as we wrap up the semester.

    Thank you again for writing this, Dr. Taylor. It was an encouraging article during this difficult time.

  27. Thanks for sharing Dr. Taylor

    Through this process I have found it very hard to discipline myself again to my new schedule and way of life, more specifically time with God. We often allow things in our life to take control of us and how we spend our time. In this article you said how when routine is gone our good habits, what we’ve disciplined ourselves to do in that schedule seems to fade with it. This was a great reminder that I need to restructure myself to where I’m at now. Christ needs to allows be the focus of whatever I’m doing or going through.

  28. Thank you Dr. Taylor.

    Flexibility and Self-disciple was something that hit me hard but just seeing how God is using this to grow me through all of it is a blessing. Showing me areas of my life that I was blinded to has allowed me to grow more into His image. Then just the challenge of being faithful and to trust in God with everything that is going on has been more affected with this situation that has happened. Thanks be to God though because this whole situation has allowed me to grow.

  29. Thank you Dr. Taylor for your perspective on this issue. One thought that stuck out to me was the idea of if a beliver dies we know where they are going along with the trait of compassion and care for those who are hurting is an important balnce for a pastor to maintain.
    I really like that you chose the words “creativity and flexibility.” We as pastors and Christians in general have a very set way we like yo do things, so much so that it often puts us in a bad mood if something changes from the norm. I belive this time of uncertainty is a great to be creative not only in hiw we fill our time but in how we reach others. We cannot let this stop us from doing the work of Christ, rather this forces us to look for new ways to reach others. It is also important for us to learn that it is okay to not be in control. We often convince our selves that somehow we are in control, even though we never actualy are. This gives us oppertunity to trust God and “cast all our cares apon him” 1 Pet. 5:7. After all God is the one who is really in control.

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