I am not sure what day it is since the whole covid-19 issue began but I know it’s been enough days that most are weary of it. Things are escalating by the day and the issue is no longer about having enough toilet paper, the real issues are starting to rise up out of our hearts.
Having run a disaster relief org for 14 years, I know this one thing to be a truth: When you are in crisis, what’s in you will come out.
(photo courtesy of Unsplash)
If there is offense it will rise up. If there is fear it will ooze over. If there is anger it will overflow.
If there is perseverance you will see it. If there is contentment you will rest in it. If there is joy in the midst of darkness, again, it will be there for all to see.
But perhaps the line isn’t drawn so clearly for all of us. What if there is anger AND perseverance? What if there’s offense AND joy? I would venture to say this is a both/and scenario not an either/or. We are all still in process, running this race the best we can.
If you have any kind of relationship with the Bible you will likely know that it says many, many times not to fear. I want to dig a little deeper into that for a moment.
The way I see it is that you can read “Do not fear” one of two ways. It all depends on how you see God; either as a dictator or as a loving Father.
The dictator says in a booming voice, “DO NOT FEAR, OR ELSE!” And He means it. There will be consequences even, as if you will suddenly turn into floating ash like you’re an Avenger in Infinity War if you allow fear to ever take an ounce of your thoughts or feelings.
But a loving Father God says it like this,
“Dear one, I know your heart. I see that this is hard and scary and I want to reassure you that through all of it I am here with you. We will make it through this together. And because I am with you, you don’t need to yield to fear, it doesn’t need to guide you. Instead, turn to Me and let Me guide you on the best path forward. These things you fear losing are not eternal so I implore you not to trust in them. But I do understand why you are fearing as men and women do. I made you with all of your feelings and fear is one of them. You have a choice of what you fear and sometimes you will lean into fearing the wrong things, but I want you to know that I am not the one who encourages you to live in it. Don’t camp there. Recognize the fear is real and why it is there and you may learn something about yourself. I don’t condemn you for feeling it though I have given you a way out of it. Know that I have empowered you to have a clear mind that is able to process this wisdom. I’ve given you the power of My name and authority through what I’ve done for you. And I’ve given you love, and if you abide in Me and My all encompassing love then you will find a great capacity to tell fear to leave quickly and to have victory over that which is terrifying you. Renew your mind and set it on the things above that are beautiful in this moment. You don’t have to keep your eyes set on the horizon fearing what will come next. Just look at Me.”
After letting that soak in, I want to encourage you to think on how you are reacting to others and what they are going through in this time. Are you pointing your finger and judging them in their fear? Or even just in their process, because what you call fear may not actually be fear for them. They may be using wisdom but according to you their precaution-taking looks like fear. Be careful that in trying to ‘not to fear’ you don’t in turn ‘become the judge’.
I want to help you to realize that whatever you believe about God will be the way that you reveal Him. If He is a dictator in your eyes then your life will reflect that to others. If He is loving and compassionate in your belief system then this will be what others see and feel from you.
I watched “Miracle from Heaven” the other night with my daughter. What a terrible movie for a mother to watch! All the way through I bawled and asked her to turn it off, I couldn’t take any more. The pain this mother and daughter and family had to go through was torturous. But at the end, of course, there’s the miracle.
When the little girl tells the mother and father about the miracle her mother says she is worried that people won’t believe her story. But the little girl responded to this fear the way a loving Father would, because she had been with God and knew something of his character.
She said, “They’ll get there when they get there.”
Ultimately, the only ones responsible for our journey with God and through this life is each of us individually and God Himself. No one else can or should tell me where I need to be in this moment in my life or my faith walk or personal development. Everyone needs to be focused on the only person they have control over: themselves.
So, dear one, I encourage you that in these times you allow yourself some grace. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel and don’t sweep it under the rug. You, and the rest of us, will only trip over it in a couple of days.
If you feel afraid, it’s okay. That fire is built and it makes sense that it’s there. But again, you don’t have to set up camp and sleep the night there. And at the very least you don’t have to wake up in the morning and decide it’s a good place to build a city.
Acknowledge the fear is real, then give it to God and allow Him to guide you. As always, if you pick the fear back up, you can lay it back down again and again. He is long suffering and patient with you. He has great compassion for where you are right now and will meet you there with no condemnation.
If you are struggling with other people’s choices and feelings and beliefs, be wary that your judgment doesn’t become a desire to control what they are dealing with. Control is rooted in a lack of trust and the need to control others reveals a lack of trust in God to have His way in their lives, and reveals a hope for you to have ‘your way’ in their lives.
We hope for people to become more like Jesus, not more like us.
And even as we each have our own way we should go, there’s grace for us even as we point fingers, blame shift and try to take the reigns. Thank God that He is not like man, that He doesn’t condemn us when the place of process we are at is in judgment, control, fear, shame and anger. Instead He gently pulls on our heart strings saying, “Come to Me”. He recognizes we are all doing the best we can and we should try to see each other with His eyes.
Give yourself some grace. You won’t stay where you are. Don’t fear, He is growing you closer to Him.
And if we in this faith hope to be known by our love, we will have self-compassion and we will strive to meet people right where they are. Because,
“We’ll get there when we get there.”