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.

MONDAY MORNING DEVOTION – LEADING THROUGH FEAR

READING Exodus 14

Providentially, my posting of this devotion falls during the COVID-19 pandemic when pastors are leading their people through a time of anxiety and fear. I pray Moses’ example may encourage you.

Moses led the people of Israel through a crisis. “The Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly” (v. 10).

The people vented their anxiety by blaming Moses for their circumstances. He addressed their fear by focusing them on God. Moses spoke profound words to them, turning their focus from himself and from the Egyptian army to the One who would deliver them. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (vv. 13-14).

Moses’ exhortations to the people are a good model for ourselves and for the people we shepherd:

Don’t be afraid. This was a reassurance God often gave people when about to move forward in following His commands and receiving the fulfillment of His promises. See Gen 15:1; 26:24; Joshua 1:9; 8:1. We can confidently guide people we minister to with the very same words.

Stand still. Hold your position. Don’t let fearful circumstances move you from where you stand. “Sometimes the people of God are told to take their stand, passively and quietly awaiting the mighty deliverance of the Lord” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed., p. 394). We can encourage our people to remain confident and hold their position in grace during trying times (Romans 5:1-5).

See the salvation of the Lord.  Watch God work! He is the source of victory. He will receive the glory. Our deliverance may not be circumstantial, but it will be eternal.

PRAYER
Help me not to fear present circumstances or future possibilities and what may happen to us. We are moving forward by your leading. You have promised to take care of us. Help me to encourage my people to hold our position in you and to watch you work.

I direct my anxiety, my expectations, and my trust to you. Help me encourage others to do the same.