There seems little reason for celebrating right now. COVID-19 has left us reeling, gasping for the ordinary; disoriented and confused. Uncertainty surrounds us. A lament seems far more appropriate. The exiles in Babylon knew the reality of yearning for a return to mundane normality’, which seemed so rosy in comparison.
Like them, we have choices to make. Dealing with physical, emotional and spiritual heaviness, our fears, anxieties and dread isn’t simply ‘mind over matter’. Those concerns are real. The 3am worries grow and morph in monstrous proportions, tormenting our minds and keeping sleep away during the early hours. If you feel tossed around in a sea of misery with little hope of victory, survival itself can seem out of reach. “God, where are you?” may well be our cry in the night.
How can we navigate our current circumstances righteously?
Mourning for the people, plans and expectations we had a year ago acknowledges that our hearts are sore, our bodies weary and our minds troubled by the sheer volume of bad news swirling around us. Processing our griefs and disappointments is necessary for good mental health. That takes time. The immediacy of social media has opens our eyes beyond the consequences of the pandemic to the spectrum of hardships, political upheaval and tragedy reported from other nations. We can't take responsibility for it all, but it lands before us on our screens, invading our thoughts, demanding a response even when we’re running on empty tanks. That's exhausting.
Remembering God’s goodness is a way to encourage our souls. It’s difficult to see Him at work during such upheaval, but He’s walking with us on a path He knows. God is not panicking! He knows our heartache, feels our pain, and cares for each of us with a passion and detail it’s hard to comprehend. Recalling His faithfulness in the past motivates us to trust Him in the present and enjoy peace for the future. That’s encouraging.
We can be the metaphorical ostrich with its head in the sand, disengaging from the world around when things become too challenging, or we can celebrate our magnificent God and celebrate each other. To those of you who have juggled jobs, furlough, redundancies, home-schooling, caring for older parents, domestic responsibilities, a relentless slew of bills, isolation, overwhelm and relational stresses: I salute you. With God on our side we have resources and grace that we may not have drawn on until now. Pressing into Him has deepens the reality of that relationship in this dry and demanding season.
Miriam or Deborah celebrated God’s victory in songs, leading others into praise, dancing with their musical exuberance and telling the story of His goodness in turbulent times. Like them, may we also be women who celebrate God’s unchanging character and faithfulness through thick and thin, who overflow with His joy, peace and hope so that we are bringing His light and life to others.
Words by Jennifer Sanders