Feeling COVID-19 Pressure?
Thank you Vicky Sim, from UnSplash.com , taking a picture of your husband in Nambia, during 2010, as if he was holding the boulder in place. Vicky, you captured how a lot of us are feeling in our lives during this pandemic. An invisible force has overtaken the world and many of us are feeling pressure. Yet, I am reminded that Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NLT), "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed."
Those words were written, twenty years after the resurrection of Christ, to those who had become followers of Christ. Believers, in the city of Corinth, gathered together and called themselves the church. The city and region was filled with former Roman soldiers who could, in their retirement, indulge in every whim and craving. A temple was dedicated to a goddess and filled with female priests who peddled immoral intimacy as worship. Vendors at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa did whatever they could to capture the attention of buyers for the sake of wealth.
The believers in the center of this moral, ethical and spiritual pollution found it difficult to live righteous lives. Not convinced? Read 1 Corinthians, then read 2 Corinthians, keeping in mind that one year's time had passed between the two books, and you will see that Paul spent much of his time correcting someone or everyone.
But there is light in the midst of that spiritual darkness here in chapter 4. In verse 7, Paul refers to human beings who have surrendered their lives to Christ as cheap clay jars with the powerful light of God shining from within the heart of that jar. After verse 8, Paul uses military terms to explain how we might feel like a soldier, or a battalion of soldiers with other believers, as we are pressed on every side, perplexed, hunted down and knocked down. Some might even die. But Paul goes on to say in verse 16, "Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day." That is a timely promise for our times.
The first words of verse 17 joined to the final words of verse 18 might be worth memorizing and repeating while we wait for this invisible enemy to be banished from our lives. Listen to these words as you read them aloud, (v. 17) "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long . . . (v.18) but the things we cannot see will last forever."
Here are five practical applications on how we can let that powerful light shine from within us while we are feeling the pressure living life in compact settings:
Extroverts, let's realize that after 1-2 days, at home, everyone has heard everything we had to say. Every thought does not need to be shared. Needlessly repeating ourselves has become prattle. Learn to embrace the quiet and the calm. There is no need to throw your weight around. Practice listening and you may discover something new about those around you. That will be safer than going out into the world.
Introverts, you used to dream about nothing but being home alone; but, you're not alone so deal with it. Use words to express yourself. Groans, grunts and stares are only going to cause trouble. You're going to get an extrovert started and he will not stop. When you're craving that cave of solitude simply make the announcement that you need some time alone but you will return in time to help with the next meal.
Clutter may pile up but people are more important, especially little people. Yelling in direct proportion to the amount of toys left-out on the floor does not make for good math. When it's time to put things away, put on some fun music, dance with the little ones or tickle them, smile and laugh as you transform picking-up time to 5-minutes when you lift everyone's spirits.
Refuse to drown in the darkness of despair. The same Lord who hung planets and stars so far away from us that we cannot see past them with our strongest telescope and who dug trenches in the oceans depths so deep that we cannot create vehicles to explore them without being crushed by the ocean's pressure, is the same God who will not leave you alone or in darkness. All you have to do is ask for his help and sometimes ask for help from those with flesh and bone such as family members, friends and ministers can help you find that powerful light for yourself.
Bring out an umbrella of protection for the children and for yourself. Don't let little ones hear the news nor the comments you make on the phone discussing the latest illnesses and deaths with your best friend. To adults the odds of sickness and death look minuscule but to children they lurk outside the house and under their beds. What's more is that adults take too much pleasure in crowing about what they cannot change and ignoring what they can change. Politicians and news hosts cannot hear or see your reaction to their press conferences or broadcasts but your family members can see and hear you, so why not let your actions and words shine the light of Christ during this time of worry and fear?
Once again, I love the words of verse 17 and verse 18, in 1 Corinthians 4, strung together to form a calming contrast - (v. 17) "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long . . . (v.18) but the things we cannot see will last forever." My prayer for you and your loved ones is that you will "remain secure and healthy while God's powerful light shines in you."
Note: Here is a special invitation. Later this week, Jamie, my wife and I will publish a relaxing and positive podcast explaining why we took vacation time, during the month of March, to share life with Send Relief and American university students on mission with GenSend in Puerto Rico before pandemic became all of our shared nightmare. Subscribe now, on this site, if you want to catch that podcast later this week.