By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
The blood pressure cuff tightened around my arm. The numbers didn’t lie. My blood pressure and pulse soared. Within an hour I was sitting alone in the ER at our local hospital, as my daughter was not allowed to accompany me. Like so many of us, I am not above any of the stress caused by trying to navigate a global pandemic.
As Satan whispered lies to me, I tried to calm myself down. Satan wants us to believe God has left us alone in this unprecedented time. That if God cared about us, it would be over with by now.
And while I admit sometimes his lies seem true, I know that God is here. There are ways to rediscover God’s presence in a pandemic. Start by asking these five questions:
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1. What Am I Watching?
Everywhere we look we can read about the virus, see the staggering numbers which keep rising each day, hear the stories of those who are feeling lost, wondering when they will get some relief.
One way I’ve helped reduce the stress in our home is to stop watching the news. It was just a stress builder, even though I had tried convincing myself more information will help me. It’s not true.
Instead of sitting before a screen and letting others decide what is important for me to know, I am filtering what I watch.
God wants us to not worry (Philippians 4:6) Watching the news gave me reasons why I should worry.
2. Who Am I Listening To?
Yes, Satan loves this pandemic. He loves it when people are divided. And that’s exactly what happens when we hear differing views. If we look at things the way they are, it is depressing. So we need to counterbalance what we see and listen to, with what God says.
God is not surprised with this pandemic. Just like he was not surprised when Paul ended up in prison. Did you ever wonder how Paul could sit there in shackles and yet, raise his voice in praises? I can tell you one thing Paul was not doing. He was not looking at the way things were, but instead was trusting in his God. Even when an earthquake shook and the prison doors flung open, Paul didn’t run to get out (Acts 16:26-29).
Paul’s orders came from someone higher. No wonder Paul was so powerful as he listed in Philippians 4:8 which things we should be thinking about.
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3. What Am I Doing with My Burdens?
I am a highly sensitive person. Growing up, I was forever being told, “Stop that crying.” I’ll never forget the day we got a dog. I sat on my bed, soothing our cat, Peaches.
“What are you doing?” My mother asked me as she was walking by my room.
“I think Peaches feels bad ‘cause we got the dog.” My mother mumbled something, shook her head and walked away.
At even a young age, I carried the burdens of others. When I became a Christ-follower, I learned we are to take burdens to Jesus. Some days it’s easier for me than others. I love praying for others. But I need to remember God is capable of all of our burdens.
When we focus on what God tells us to focus on, things will fall into place.
4. What Am I Reading?
Have you ever been apart from someone you love? When Mike and I got married he was already in the service. I would write to him almost every day, and when I got his letters, I would pore over each word, smiling at the exclamation points and underlined words. I’ve kept all those precious letters. When Mike would go on the field for 30 days twice a year, his letters helped me through those times when I’d miss him.
God wrote all of us a love letter as well. And when we struggle or feel alone, we can open up his Word and read about how much he loves us.
His love is unfailing. And we’re always on God’s mind.
5. Who Am I Talking To?
Another thing that’s important is who we’re talking to during this unprecedented time in our lives. Some of us may be with family. Some of us may be alone. No matter what your personal situation is, God is available.
We need only to call out to him and he hears us. He invites us into his throne room where we can climb on his lap and tell him our struggles (Hebrews 4:16).
If you are struggling with all that is going on around you, tell him. God’s ears are always open.
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A Final Suggestion: Take a Walk
One thing I’ve incorporated in my pandemic life is making sure I take a walk each day. It’s there I focus on what’s around me that is beautiful. I can look up at the trees and see how God painted them the night before. I can watch the birds and hear as they chirp messages to each other. Sometimes I can even see a deer. And as I walk, I pour my heart out to God, knowing if he counted the hairs on my head, he is listening to my words.
When I walk, I imagine him right beside me, like the hymn, “In the Garden” by C. Austin Miles. One day while working in his dark room, Miles read the passage where Mary went to the tomb after Jesus’ death. She looked inside and saw it empty, but Jesus was standing nearby. Miles imagined what that scene would have been like. He pictured himself there with Jesus in the garden as Mary had been, and later the words and music to “In the Garden” came to him.
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.
I feel better after my walks, even in the most difficult of times. For it is then I can feel God’s comfort, like when I lost my brothers, or our little sweet granddaughter. Maybe it would help you during this pandemic to take walks, too.
A Prayer for Us in This Pandemic
Father, I thank you so much that we are not in this pandemic alone. You have promised us you would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:15). We know we can come to you at any time, day or night. And Lord, thank you that your hands are big enough for all our burdens. Help us remember when we speak with others that we don’t know what they are going through. Help us to pray for them, and if possible even pray with them. Help us to be careful of what we put in front of our eyes, what we listen to. Help us to read your life-giving words and to dwell on them. You are Almighty God. You are here with us now. Help us to rediscover you in a new way, even today. We pray this all in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
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Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There: Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne has also written and published a book entitled He Whispers: Poetic talks with God. Sign up for Anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.com and receive a free eBook by clicking the tab. Or connect with her on Facebook.