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.
It was the middle of the night. Life had changed for me. I felt like I’d returned home, a child of God who’d been lost in a chaos that’d held me captive for too long. Evil works like that, using circumstances to draw our attention away from the living God. Something had wakened me. My eyes opened and I looked up. Floating above my bed was a large leather-bound book. It hovered there, suspended in a dimension seemingly unreal yet clearly evident to my eye. The front cover opened, revealing stark white pages, void of any writing. One by one the pages quickly turned until the center of the book was reached, at which point it stopped. On the left hand page were the typed words, large, bold, and very clear, FIRST AND FOREMOST.
I didn’t have to wonder the meaning, it was clear to me then and still is now. God is to remain, first and foremost, at my center. Disruptions and distractions of life are not to take my focus from my Father again. All of life’s needs and comforts are found there, in connection with Him. It’s this type of relationship that I want to encourage for you.
What Are Your Basic Beliefs About God?
In order to better understand this powerful bond and how it relates to us, it might be helpful to consider how we, in our deepest beliefs, fit into this union. What you believe is key and may need to be shaken.
Do you believe God is the Creator of the world, universe, stars, and moon? Is He still a Creator today, bringing forth human life, flowers, and sunsets? Is He real, living and present? Does He influence events in your life? Can you have conversations or receive guidance and wisdom from Him? Can you personally benefit from His might and power?
Is He the living God?
Humanity did believe in the living God in Moses’ day, however, as referenced in Deuteronomy 5:24, it was feared that you’d die if He spoke to you. Yet, God, in all His glory, intentionally revealed Himself and spoke to Moses. As stated in Joshua 3:7 the Lord spoke with Joshua too, letting him know He was with Him. Joshua, in turn, declared that all would know that the living God was among them, because God would be the One to drive out their enemies.
Where did this fear of death attached to personal connection with God stem from? Let’s go back to Eden, to the beginning of separation. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil, they’d been told they’d surely die. They were banished from safety and security, where all their needs had been met. They lost a holy and pure connection to their Father. Life was empty and dark without God. Spiritual death seemed to have occurred.
Power of God Revealed
Hearts changed once the power of God was revealed to them, once they witnessed God at work. It’s apparent, Biblically speaking, that many people throughout history acknowledged that there was a living God who was powerful enough to alter the course of their lives, offer guidance, perform miracles, and create outcomes that could not have been foreseen.
King Hezekiah, as referenced in 2 King 19:16 and Isaiah 37:17, asked God to bow down His ear and open His eyes, to hear the words of His enemy as they spoke against Him, the living God. God responded, sent His angel out, and destroyed the enemy. The power of the living God became evident. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 42:2 of the living God whom his soul thirsted for. Jeremiah referred to the Lord as the true God, the living God, an everlasting King, and the Lord of hosts (Jeremiah 10:10). King Darius, in Daniel 6:26, made a decree that all within his kingdom should tremble before the living God. God, Himself, stated in Hosea 1:10 that His children will be referred to as the sons of the living God.
And Then Came Jesus
Jesus lived as God has asked us to live today. He kept His Father, first and foremost, at His center. We can look at His life as an amazing example of what trusting God, even in the midst of chaos, can do. In this living relationship, God’s will led Jesus’ very footsteps. We can see in Christ’s life and death the value of obedience, a true image of living as One with the Father.
Jesus’ death, as the final sacrificial Lamb, tore the veil that kept us from relationship with God! Distance from Him, born in Eden, lost its power to keep us separated. We can be intimately connected to Him now. We can seek and sense His presence, His guidance, His peace, and His power. Adam and Eve were cast away from the wonderful company of our God by their disobedience. We’re able to return to Eden, a garden of rest, due to Christ’s obedience, His sacrifice on our behalf.
You are now a temple for the living God. God said (2 Corinthians 6:16) He’d dwell in His people and walk in them, that He will be their God and they will be His people. That’s you and me! Though trusting in the living God (1 Timothy 4:10) as the Savior of all men will draw criticism, we can rejoice none-the-less, because we can have what unbelievers can’t, the peace of God, even in the midst of life’s challenges. Observe those that hunger for earthly riches or recognition instead of God’s glory. Note their hearts and what they ultimately exude. See beyond the image they portray to the reality of darkness that surrounds them. Don’t trust in such uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17). Trust rather in the living God Who gives richly all things to enjoy, including life eternal.
“All things to enjoy”… How can we experience joy when life is challenging?
In days of Biblical history (Hebrews 3:7-11), our forefathers complained, seeking proof of a living God, even though they’d witnessed His miracles first-hand. They did not know Him personally, therefore they weren’t able to enter into His rest. We’re able to know Him! We’re able to enter into His rest, a place of peace and joy, a life of power and comfort, regardless of human circumstances!
Today, right now, (Hebrews 12:18-24) we are living in a time that we don’t have to be afraid of hearing the voice of God. Rather, we can rejoice at the sound. Today, we’re living in a time that any one of us can seek Him and come to know Him. We can come unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of this new covenant. This can be experienced now!
We, His children, are vessels that hold the living God. When we rest in His presence and allow Him to move through us, others who don’t believe can witness His miracles, traits, and love. They may then feel led to seek what we have. Getting to know Him is the key for any of us. It’s God that draws us to His Son, Christ, Who saved us (John 6:44). It’s the Son that connects us to the Father (John 14:6). He gives us the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17) so that we can live born again. And through this Spirit, we’re intimately filled with God. The circle is complete. We are One with our Father.
So, let me return to the original question, what are your basic beliefs about God? Let me encourage you to ask Him what’s real. Seek Him. Get to know Him. I pray He reveals Himself to you and that you choose to place Him, first and foremost, at your center.
Click here for more on relationship with our Lord and a great message about being Sons and Daughters of the King!
God altered my life as an author. For years, my husband and I traveled New England selling my books, meeting people, and encouraging them in relationship with God. We often discussed expanding these trips countrywide once our youngest was to graduate. I was sure it was a route to success as a writer and excitedly looked forward to it.
That’s all changed.
My husband’s sudden and fast-growing collection of vinyl records frustrated me. I felt I was supposed to be supportive, but it was nothing I cared about. In fact, it made me angry. At God’s continued nudging, I finally offered help. We spent many nights checking, cleaning, and organizing all he was amassing. For what purpose, I wondered in irritation?
Selling them seemed logical. Chris joined me as a vendor at a number of fairs until it became too burdensome. I knew my life was at a crossroad. After seeking God’s direction and arguing with Him about it, I stepped out on faith and suggested we open a store in our house. I offered to stop traveling and stay home to run it. He agreed. Years of marketing had come to an end, and I was struggling.
Chris’s Nostalgia Shop opened for business on January 29, 2018
During this transition, inwardly I was hurt and angry at God, at my husband, and at his hobby. My publisher had already closed unexpectedly in the midst of projects. Now, with the loss of hands-on marketing, my dream to be a successful writer felt crushed. Though I definitely wavered in support of my husband’s new joy, I did trust God.
Chris’s Nostalgia Shop Has Grown!
We’ve expanded the shop since it opened and our inventory has taken over much of our home, prompting big changes to take place. The work involved to run it consumes much of my days, often much of my nights, but I really enjoy this job! It seems perfect for my personality. Keeping and updating lists and organizing product, oddly enough, brings me joy.
It feels wonderful supporting my husband’s dreams. He’s been my biggest supporter over the years and it’s such a blessing to give back and see him enjoy this endeavor. I also have the freedom to write encouraging content for others while I’m working. And most importantly, with all the time I now spend focused on my Lord while I ponder and write, pray and praise, I sense His powerful presence all the time. He’s at my center again, where He belongs. Ultimately, my intimate and personal relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life and I now get to nurture it freely.
This life change was perfect for me!
You see, God altered my life because He knows what’s best. And while change is difficult, I’ve found peace in choosing to trust Him. Let me encourage you. No matter what changes occur, perceived good or bad, trust Him. God has the best plans!
This reminds me of a little tree, Little Birch, who learned a similar lesson. Check out my children’s book Little Birch Finds Peace!
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.