Philippians 4:6; “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” [NASB] A similar admonishment is found in Matthew 6:25-34, referencing worry or anxiety. In the present day that we find ourselves this can be and has been a difficult task. We are immersed in a time within our country and world where everything seems to be out of control. When I hear of all the social protest and crime in many of our cities across the country, I cannot help but think of the toll this is having emotionally, mentally, and spiritually on people. I do not want to get into who is right and who is wrong, that is not the focus of this article. Rather I would like to exchange some ideas of how human and fragile we are as God’s creation.
I have been asking others and myself about how the Church will come out of this time of turmoil and upheaval. It is one thing for Churches and their Pastors to navigate the Covid-19; quite another to add on the social unrest, elections, schools opening or not opening, and politics on top of the virus.
When I talk with pastors and leaders, I have found that I want to genuinely know how they are doing. I am not asking how their ministry or church is functioning, but how are they as a PERSON coping with everything. Some are surprised with question and then others are ready to open up about the difficulties they are going through. I think that sometimes we get so wrapped up in the minutia that we forget that it is real people and places going through the raging storm.
I read an article by Ed Stetzer about How to Convert Retreat into Advance [Blog Ed Stetzer in Mission Group Blog 7/20/2020] In the blog he referenced FDR’s quote of “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The context of the quote found our nation coming out of the Great Depression and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, drawing Americans into World War II. At a point of great tribulation and unknown future, the President was trying to rally people to view the days with optimism not pessimism. I have found that if I allow myself to, I can really get depressed and anxious about the world around me. Usually this is fueled by listening to reporters tell me how bad everything is going.
In Stetzer’s blog, he identifies some principles we need to do in order to “Advance rather than Retreat.” First, renew our vision to what God has called us to. We are to be on mission with the Gospel. People need hope and Jesus is this Hope. Secondly, Reset your why. In other words, remember WHY we are doing what we are doing. God has commissioned us to be HIS ambassadors with the Gospel. We are to be the Light and Salt in a world that desperately needs direction and truth. Thirdly, Stetzer talks about “returning to the mission.” When I read this, I thought about how the Church during all this has been a Hybrid Church – both trying to meet physically and virtually at the same time. Oh, by the way school systems are trying to navigate that issue now. We have the greatest opportunity to make a difference in our current situation with the Gospel then we have had in the last 25 years. Here are some TRUTHS:
Truth, the Covid-19 is no longer a novelty, but a burden with no specific end in sight. Another Truth, we are all tired of it and want life to return to normal. Truth, we no longer have a Normal. Even if the Covid-19 ended today, we are probably looking at another 12-18 months of adjusting to a New Life existence.
Truth, I do not have the answer to all of this. I do not know where this is all going to end up. I need the very HOPE that I am sharing with those without Jesus need.
Truth, this has had an effect on me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. There are times I want to run and hide, but I know I cannot. So, my only choice is to trust in the Lord with all my being. That may sound overly simplistic, but it is the best answer I have right now. So, let us all extend mercy and grace to one another, for life just is not easy right now. I am praying for you and the Churches of Galveston Baptist Association, that we will Advance the Gospel, not Retreat into isolation!