It is a cold Monday morning and as I look out of the window of my study, something is different than a normal weekday morning, there are cars on the drive. Neighbours who are usually out at work are home. Hiding behind the safety of their four walls in an effort to avoid “the invisible enemy.” The only other times I see this many cars on the drive are at Christmas or on the joyous occasion that is a “snow day”. However this time the sense of joy and excitement are distinctly absent. There is an anxious uncertainty in the air that keeps people from their day-to-day routine
In my fairly limited life I have never experienced a time like the one we are currently seeing unfold. As I reflect on how life (and my diary) has changed in the last seven days, the word that best sums up how I feel is “disoriented”. The definition of disoriented means:
“To cause someone to lose their sense of direction: to feel displaced from a normal position or relationship.”
I have no real sense of normal, the concerns and questions that I had a few weeks ago have changed, until this week I have never questioned whether I have enough toilet paper or hand sanitiser, yet these have become real issues in my life.
But more seriously my wife and I have been asking questions like, “When will this ever get better?” “Will the business survive?” “How will be ever pay the bills?” “When will I be able to see our friends and family again?” These questions hang over our head like a cloud that threatens to block out any hopefulness.
As I read posts on social media, as I watch the news channels and chat to my neighbours it is clear to see that I am not the only person experiencing feelings of disorientation and anxiety. The familiarity of routine is comforting, like a pair of well-worn shoes, and in the last two weeks it feel like they have been rudely snatched from my feet, only to be replaced by cheap, rigid boots that are uncomfortable and bring painful blisters.
As followers of Jesus we know that it shouldn’t be the certainty of routine, of comfort, or even our friends and family that bring us a sense of peace, but I have to confess that sometimes these things do become the foundation for my peace. When this becomes the case it is a sign that things in my life have gotten out of order and that it is time to realign my priorities. The parable of the man who built his house on the sand in Matt 7:24-27 testifies to that. It is only when we set our foundations (our hope, affections and trust) wholly on Jesus that we will be able to steadfastly endure the storms that life throws our way.
Sometimes it can take a crisis like a global pandemic to highlight that we have misplaced complete trust in God.
A sign of this is happening can be when we feel an absence of peace and joy. Let me clarify choosing to not trust completely in God isn’t something that we necessarily decided to do one day, in an act of rebellion. It can be something much more subtle that takes place focus. Day-to-day matters in the here and now become the main thing and the eternal matters somehow get lost. When I turn to the couple of chapters of the bible in Revelation I remind myself that the ending is good, Jesus will come back, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more pain and suffering and every tear will be wiped away.
As I reflect on this I realise how easily I can forget the big picture. My focus narrows on the present situation and all the troubles that come with it. When I do this I lose perspective and consequently lose my peace.
The question I am asking myself is “how am I feeling about all that is currently going on in the world?” am I experiencing the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit or am I feeling other emotions that aren’t from God? Am I feeling fearful? Am I restless and anxious? Is there an absence of joy and peace?
If so, don’t feel condemned it is understandable. When we see things from a natural perspective things aren’t looking too good. However, as we acknowledge these feelings let them be a gentle reminder we need to turn our gaze back onto the prince of peace.
I encourage you through these turbulent times to make sure that we interpret all things (News broadcasts, social media content our conversations with others) in the knowledge that God is sovereign and in control. Let’s set our eyes upon Jesus in the midst of all the uncertainly. Let me leave you with a song to help and encourage us at this time.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful Face.
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Helen H. Lemmel)