Let’s tell it like it is. This COVID-19 season we’re in the midst of is difficult. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s inconvenient. It’s overwhelming. And it’s certainly different from what we’re used to.
A LOT has changed and we’re all still trying to wrap our heads around this new norm that, for many of us, means working from home, home-schooling our kids, social distancing from our loved ones, canceling travel plans, and wondering when all of this will be a thing of the past.
The unknowns of COVID-19 are many!
But, I’ve learned that the more time I spend asking questions, fearing tomorrow, and looking at the 4 walls around me in self-pity and despair the deeper I sink into my rabbit hole of misery and depression.
Rather than basking in the negative of our current circumstances of isolation and change, we can choose to dwell on the good in the midst (Phil. 4:8). After all, this is the day that the Lord has made so let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24)!
Fixing our eyes on the good in our lives does not nullify the seriousness of this virus nor does it suggest suffering is absent from our lives.
What it does do is it helps us refocus our thoughts. It centers us on God’s promises and ultimately strengthens our hearts, minds, and souls so that we can be the best spouse, parent, or friend we can be.
Have you ever walked a tightrope?
I haven’t and I sure hope I never have to!
But, balance and coordination aside, just imagine there’s been an emergency and your only way to safety is by walking a tightrope from one building to another. Where are your eyes focused?
They’re probably not closed.
They’re probably not focused on the chaos behind you.
And they’re probably not focused on the ground beneath you either.
Most likely your eyes are focused on what’s in front of you — the safe haven on the other side.
It’s the “good” of safety offered on the other side of the rope that give you the hope and strength to focus on reaching the other side.
Focus on the ground beneath you, and your risk of becoming unstable and off-balances increases, as does your risk of falling.
The same is true for our heart. Where our eyes are focused, our heart will follow.
So what are your eyes focused on today? Are you dwelling in the suffering or are you dwelling in the blessing?
Proverbs 17:22, NLT warns us to keep a cheerful heart for “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Just as good medicine offers relief from an illness, so a cheerful heart offers relief from the pain and discomfort we experience in our suffering. Likewise, it strengthens us so we can continue serving God faithfully in whatever role he’s called us (despite the suffering).
Proverbs 15 heeds a similar warning in verses 13 and 15. The Teacher writes, “A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.
For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”
Dwelling in our suffering and focusing on the negative of our circumstances only weakens us; it crushes our spirit and only brings greater anguish. It becomes more difficult to see the good when we’re stuck focusing on the bad.
On the other hand, choosing to dwell in the blessings and focus on the good not only strengthens our own hearts but it enables us to strengthen others who are struggling with their own hardships as the result of this season.
To see life as a continual feast is to see our current circumstances —the isolation, face masks, homeschooling, working from home, virtual gatherings— as a time to celebrate. And to find reason to celebrate, we must fix our eyes on the blessings amid the chaos and suffering.
So, where have you seen God moving in the midst of your current situation?
For me, this season has given me:
- More time to spend with my loved ones, making memories. As a recovering work-a-holic, this time has forced me to reevaluate how I spend my time. I actually “leave” my office on time now! And we’ve spent evenings playing games thru video chat with those I might see once a year if I’m able to travel.
- More time to actually be still and reflect. I’m learning what it means to truly be still in the presence of the Lord. I still have progress to be made, but being sheltered-in-place has forced me to slow down and breath allowing me more time with the Lord — praying, listening, and worshiping.
- A greater respect and appreciation for our healthcare workers, teachers, grocery store workers, janitors, postal service personnel, and so many other essential workers who’re often discredited and undervalued.
- A chance to finish some of the waitlisted and unfinished home projects.
I’m blessed to still be working at all, even if it means having a dog at my feet 24/7 and assisting my teenager with classes throughout my day. Not to mention the weather has been beautiful, I haven’t had to fill my gas tank, I have the time (and the energy) to walk the dogs before the end of the day, and I’m finally finishing the last few classes of my Master’s degree.
Now it’s your turn! I challenge you to go even deeper in seeing the good.
I crafted these 5 simple steps —prepare, pause, pray, pen, and praise— as they’ve helped me stay focused on the blessings despite my suffering and I hope they’ll help you to stay focused all the same.
Prepare – Grab your Bible, a notebook, and a pen or pencil (and maybe some coffee, too).
Pause – Look for opportunities to pause and reflect, distraction free.
Pray – Ask God to open your eyes to the blessings all around you and to focus your eyes on what is good. Lay the pain, worry, discomfort, frustration, whatever you’re feeling, at the foot of the cross.
Pen – Open the notebook and start listing anything and everything good in your life. You might write one word (i.e. time) OR you may choose to elaborate more (i.e. time with my spouse and my kids).
Praise – Now, thank God for those blessings. Go through the list and give thanks to God (i.e. Thank you Lord for the time I’ve been given to spend with my spouse and my kids).