Our city has seen a spike of COVID cases in the past two weeks. We held steady for almost two months and, as the weeks went by, it grew easier to believe that we had not only flattened the curve, but kept a curve from ever fully existing. These discouraging numbers are a reminder that this is not over yet.
And discouraging is a word that is starting to describe my own mindset, too. In some ways, it feels like all our time at home has been undone in the last two weeks. It feels a little bit like the past two and a half months was wasted time. I want to make sense of it all and I want the last few months of my life to have had a purpose that I just can’t seem to grab ahold of.
So, I find my heart growing a bit restless, wanting a bit more, and feeling a level of annoyance at what this pandemic keeps exacting from our lives. I find my eyes looking around me at the people I am missing, the events that keep getting cancelled, and the unknowns that keep creeping into my conversations when I speak about the future. A spirit of frustration seems to be brewing in my heart. Discontentment is simmering just below the surface.
This is how I feel but this is not where I can stay.
These thoughts and feelings may be natural…even common to man…but they are void of a Godward vision. They are fixed on what is seen instead of unseen. They are considering myself above others, and comfort and ease above sacrifice and service. They are baby weeds growing in my heart that, if left unchecked, will grow deeper, spreading to every nook and cranny till my heart becomes a garden of complaint and criticism.
This is how I feel but it’s not where I can stay.
In the strength of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I must slay these thoughts and feelings by taking them captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I can only do this as I arm myself with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). I must take what I know is true and battle hard against what I “feel” is true. In Psalm 73:16-17 and 25-26, Asaph gives us a great example of how he fought the battle in his mind. For fifteen verses we read how he wrestled with the great injustices he saw and the discouragement that was quickly creeping in. But then he takes those thoughts captive with words I think many of us can echo in the midst of Covid restlessness and a nation that is in turmoil: “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end…Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my hart and my portion forever.”
When we fix our eyes on Christ, through the Word, it changes everything.
What we feel says injustice is prevailing. What we know says God is on His throne, ruling and reigning over all. “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.” (Psalm 47:8)
What we feel says we have wasted much of the last few months. What we know says that God doesn’t waste anything in the lives of His kids. In fact, He works it for our good (Romans 8:28). “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8a)
What we feel says that what we see in front of us is how life really is. Yet what we know says the unseen is where our true lives are found. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
What we feel says we have a right to be discouraged and downcast as we look around us but what we know says that our hope and joy are not found in people, places and times but in a God who is faithful and true. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
Our feelings must find their foundation on the solid rock of the Word of God. Our vision will only be accurate when we are viewing life through the lens of Scripture. And what we see around us will only be in right focus when we have first fixed our eyes on Christ! Then we can echo with the Sons of Korah: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning…For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:5-7