In this time of a global pandemic and quarantine, it's hard not to think only about our own problems and fears.
Perhaps a lot of you, like me, want to stay in bed and numb the pain until it’s all over. You wonder, “What can I do, when I can do nothing?” It feels like we’re only really productive when what we’ve done is seen and acknowledged, and prayer is done in quiet moments and without any fanfare. Yet prayer shouldn’t be a last-ditch attempt to try and do something. Rather, it should be a first response.
The question that King Solomon asked in Ecclesiastes is one I ponder now, too, “What’s the purpose? Isn’t everything meaningless?” In long walks alone, and with my husband, I’ve come to this conclusion: People are most important. Our purpose is to serve others. People are meaningful because people last forever.
If we operate from the point of view that life is “all about me,” we’re doomed. If our only concern is ourselves, then our focus is on our pleasures of what we eat, how we’re entertained, and what material items we have and what position we hold. We’ll always be searching and craving more. It’s a miserable existence to live only for self.
How do you get out of the pit of self-pity? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times, and always the answer is: Do something for others. When I focus on what I can do, and not what I can’t, I always find peace.
Here are some ideas of what I’ve done that may inspire you. I make gift packages for people in my small hometown. I send puzzles, books, and word games along with fun treats. I make homemade cards with my collection of stickers and colored markers. I bring a meal to a family in tinfoil containers and set it on their doorstep. I take walks, text a friend and hold a poster sign of encouragement up to someone's window. This has helped tremendously with my mental health.
I’m reminded of the story in the Bible (Mark 4) where Jesus calmed the ferocious storm while He and His disciples were on the lake. The lesson of Jesus telling the storm to “be still” is powerful, both physically and emotionally. Physically, Jesus completely restored the environment to complete stillness, but emotionally He calmed the storm within His disciples. But what strikes me most in this passage (verse 35) is when Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.’” And I realize, that’s it! We will get to the other side of this!
Easter was celebrated this year on April 12 . It was weird and sad not to attend church. It was a loss of celebration in a way that we’re used to. I read a post on someone’s Facebook page that said, “I’m gonna be honest. There’s nothing ‘happy’ about Easter this year,” and then proceeded to list and lament all the things they weren’t able to do.
“Okay, fair enough,” I thought, but it’s not about being happy. We can choose to have joy no matter what's happening. We have a free will to “think on purpose” on how we’ll respond to any given situation. Happiness is based on what happens to us, which means all circumstances in our lives need to be good for us to be happy. Yet this life is not our home, and so “perfectly happy” is never gonna happen.
Nehemiah 8:10 states: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” No matter what happens, you and I can have joy knowing that we are loved, approved, and accepted because of who Jesus is and His love for us. No one can take our relationship with Christ away. Religion will not bring us joy. Selfishness and self-centeredness block our joy. But here’s the Good News: “Give and you’ll receive.” People are happy when they’re reaching out to others because they’re functioning in the will of God.
I’ve always learned and been blessed in a season of trials and challenge, and this season is no different. I really can hear God's voice. The best way to know what He’s saying is to read the Bible and trust what He says.
And remember: Praying is a productive and valuable act of service. You may never know how much until you reach heaven. Keep on keeping on. Do what you can simply by being your beautiful self, and giving to others in acts of kindness. Be a prayer warrior. God is aware and on the move. You are loved, and we’ll get to the other side.