The United States Divided/COVID-19 Contrast
We’re a country in turmoil, seemingly a people divided, as a COVID-19 contrast makes itself increasingly clearer.
Protect the People
A woman’s daughter was being taken to ICU to be placed on a ventilator due to COVID-19. She tweeted of her struggle and request for prayers for her child. A Facebook post from a woman living in my state caught my attention, a state with low COVID-19 activity presently. It included a picture of two nurses standing in an upper hospital window holding handwritten signs: “He is at peace” and “We are so sorry”. She’d lost her dad to COVID-19. For many, the struggle is real.
I write of our stay-at-home efforts during these unique times as an offer of help to others in my blog Take A Knee – Pause for the Pandemic.
Protect My Rights
Meanwhile, other posts populate social media and stories are highlighted on the news of people protesting Stay-at-Home orders, social distancing, and mask policies. They appear proudly defiant and argumentative. Standing up for their personal rights, many choose to defy advice meant to aid all of our loved ones, friends, and fellow United States citizens.
There’s a stark COVID-19 contrast between the two ways of living right now. Either we strongly want people to take seriously the gravity of this pandemic and the importance of taking measures to protect one another or we’re demanding freedoms we feel we deserve, regardless of the cost to ourselves and others.
A comparison to faith has crossed my mind. Such contrast exists between those of faith and those living in unbelief.
Those Who Submit to God
People who have seen the glory of the Lord, those He’s revealed Himself to, willingly submit to relationship with Him. They allow Him to rule, letting go of their own will, knowing that His ways are higher. Often their faith comes from difficult times during which they’ve seen the hand of God at work. They step away from people, habits, mindsets that didn’t serve Him well and ultimately didn’t serve themselves well either. They embrace a new life, one misunderstood by many. Where struggle was once real, grace is now recognized.
Meanwhile, there are those who not only rebel against the idea of letting go of control and submitting to God for themselves, they rise up to criticize those who have. They boldly argue against His existence. It seems imperative others not follow suit, even when such acts don’t directly impact them.
The interesting factor here, in both scenarios, is first-hand experience.
Direct Experience with COVID-19
Many who’ve unfortunately suffered the horrific effects of the pandemic may be able to appreciate the fight for rights. They may have previously felt the same. However, when tragedy strikes and what was chosen to be disregarded or watched cautiously from a distance becomes first-hand account, the devastating results of this coronavirus can’t be ignored.
Those in mourning may understand those who haven’t yet faced what they have. But those fighting for freedoms lost can’t yet comprehend and don’t agree with the insistence for protection. Therefore, they argue against any adherence, as if submission to guidance is something more tragic. An example is found in this Twitter post by @Lori_Morse56 stating, “The masks aren’t for your protection, they’re a sign of your submission”. Perhaps they’ve yet to experience the coronavirus disaster personally or they simply want it to run its course naturally, but it’s likely they don’t understand fully what those believe who have faced it and been changed by it.
An opinion article, What Is Making You Stay At Home Right Now, written by Todd May and published on April 29, 2020, points to the reality of how connected we, as people, are. “The coronavirus has, among other things, revealed how our daily actions are woven into those of others in ways that have consequences for all of us.”
Personal Experience with God
In Spiritual comparison, when God has revealed Himself to us, our beliefs change. We can trust then, as believers, that God’s able to reveal Himself to unbelievers, just as He did to us. We can understand disbelief and opinions that rise up in opposition to faith, but we don’t have to let them bother us. There’s nothing to prove, because God is mighty and revelation only comes from Him. Better yet, we can participate by praying for them and letting God do His thing.
Similarly, we can have compassion on those who oppose the protective suggestions meant to help during this pandemic. God is in control of these situations as well. We can rest in God and pray for all while living our own realities.
We Are Called to Love Even Those Who Disagree With Us
Though the COVID-19 contrast is presently strong, let God’s peace rule in your heart. As stated by The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina in a message titled A Faith-Based Response to COVID-19, “We are called to love our neighbor.” It refers to the importance of staying home, but don’t forget, we’re also called to love the neighbor that disagrees with us.
Pray, trust, and live in the peace that only God produces, regardless of what’s seen.
God’s Will Be Done
No matter where you fall in the faith or the COVID-19 contrast, rest assured that God’s will is being done. He is in control.
When, Lord, will Your promises be seen?
When God speaks His promises to our hearts, prophesies on our lives, He’s working behind the scenes to achieve the goal. What then, when we’ve not seen results? When will they come to pass?
Though you heard confirmation and have been waiting, the answer you expected has not yet occurred. In fact, things seem far from in God’s control. Did you hear Him wrong? Wasn’t it God’s voice you heard? Doubt has begun its death march into your heart, tainting the hope you’d once joyfully held.
Have faith. Whether you think He’s paying attention or not, God’s will is still being done, on earth as it is in heaven. In many ways, the story of Christmas offers great encouragement that God is working behind the scenes on things not yet seen in our personal lives today.
God Influences Many as He Works Behind the Scenes
It was a decree, an order that all return to their places of birth. The decision was made by one person, one man in authority. Without his realization, he’d been influenced by God. You see, it was necessary. In order for prophecy to be fulfilled, movement had to take place. It was announced and executed. Many people had to be involved to bring such an order into fruition. Shifts in location of multitudes of people were in the works long before the moment of Jesus’ birth.
Before God prophesied to you, He’d already set into motion the elements required to fulfill His intent. He’s working on things behind the scenes, just as He had in Bethlehem. His power is so far reaching, it includes even the decisions, mindset, and movement of others.
In addition to the logistics of Jesus’ birth location, many details were necessary to accomplish God’s will in the Christmas story. He needed particular people to believe, trust, and be obedient to His direction. God sent angels to make visits, clearly revealing to Mary and certain shepherds the unseen Spiritual world that surrounds us.
Have you entertained angels unaware? Have you sensed the wisdom within someone’s suggestion? Are you open to see the Spiritual realm around us?
Don’t Be Limited By the Picture in Your Mind
Mary had been told she would deliver the King. A promise on her life had been given. What picture in her mind was being challenged as she settled onto a bed of straw? What difficulty are you enduring right now that seems so distant from the image of God’s will in your mind? Take heart. What God brings about is often not what we envision in our limited thinking.
Dreams were used to direct Joseph and the wise men, but to keep God’s plan on track and protect Jesus, these people needed to trust His prodding and act on it. Jesus’ appointed time to save His people hadn’t yet come, and God gave instruction that would keep Him safe for the time being.
However, their obedience led to horrific events for many families all across the land. It was God who’d spoken to them, but did they question that at any time?
Things Often Seem Worse Before They Get Better
Often, in our lives, when we release control to God, things seem to get far worse before they get better. Hold onto Him. Trust Him as He works to manipulate the things out of our lives that aren’t necessary and draws that in which He desires. God’s reigning presence brings a shift that may initially appear wrong.
God influenced the authorities of the land so that Mary and Joseph would travel. He influenced the multitudes to fill Bethlehem, arriving before them and filling the rooms, causing Jesus to be born in a manger. Those called to worship the newborn King were inspired by God as well. Not one detail was delayed or missed.
In fact, the heaven’s themselves were manipulated to participate. A star, whose light took years to travel to earth, gave direction, clearly showing that God had been at work in far reaching ways long before the trek to Bethlehem.
Rest assured, long before God spoke to you, He’d set His will in motion. Though it may be behind the scenes, the work He’s doing is powerful and will culminate at the appropriate time.
Wait in Confidence, God Is Working Behind the Scenes!
The Christmas story illustrates wonderfully so many elements God had in the works behind the scenes in order to fulfill prophecy. When we hear a word from Him, a prophecy on our own lives, a simple thought back to the birth of our King can encourage us to trust, embrace His peace in the process, and wait in confidence.
We are that river
There’s a river that God’s in the midst of. It’s so influential that even the streams coming from it refresh the distant lands they touch. It’s a holy place, that river. It houses the most High. We, the children of God, are that river. He is in the midst of us, living through us, and imparting His strength so that we can rest in Him and not live broken.
When we flow freely, unencumbered by life’s debris, when God pulses through our very being, His light shines from us like streams branching off from a river. Even the seemingly small things we do prompted by God encourage others to believe. They’re touched by Him through us, often without us even being aware.
Let God guide your journey
Entrusting our lives to God and His will allows Him to guide us through riverbanks He’s already carved. Some appear good, some appear bad. Following through on His nudges often leads to witnessing things that could only have come from One who knows all. For these experiences we praise and worship Him. However, sometimes that revelation comes later. Hold tight.
Difficulties place us where God needs us
When we endure difficulties of which others judge and condemn us, rather than lash out, stand confident. God is in control still. He positions us where He needs us to be. There’s no need to defend. Don’t allow these seemingly bad situations to hinder His work. Fight the urge to complain or attack in response. Wait in quiet trust. Keep your eyes on Him, and watch God reveal His purposes. In this way we’re able to offer an example of the pure power of God.
Resist angrily giving back what is being done to you. Restrain from seeking vengeance. God does so in His time and to a degree that serves His purposes, furthering His will. Let Him repay evil for what evil has done. It’s not your job. Let that freedom penetrate and enjoy the weight lifted.
Relax in the flow of God’s will.
Rest, relax in the flow of His will. Sink in, and don’t worry about what you may or may not accomplish. He provides abundantly what’s needed. Resting in Him renews our Spirit as we continue to grow closer and more in love with Him. Allow fully His Spirit to fill and flow through you. Relationship with Him is the most important thing of life.
There’s a river that God’s in the midst of. Be that river, trusting and filled so much that streams of His presence branch off from you, offering refreshment to others.