Written by: Scott Savage
Are you a planner? Do you like to imagine places for summer vacation…in January? Do you start thinking about Christmas shopping…in July? Do you finish your homework…two weeks before it’s due?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then the stay at home order due to COVID-19 has to be incredibly difficult. It is very difficult to plan for the future during this time. It’s even difficult to think beyond just a few days right now. During this time, days feel like weeks, weeks feel like months, and months feel like years.
For those of us who struggle with being present, the stay at home order could be a major challenge, and a huge gift! It’s as if we’re all invited into a season of rest and stillness. We’re being invited to BE where we are, even if we want to be anywhere else. We have an opportunity to quiet our lives so we can hear God’s still, small voice. Those of us who are in significant pain or adversity can allow our pain to become bitterness, or we can allow it to become what C.S. Lewis called God’s megaphone.
In his book, the Problem of Pain, Lewis famously writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Whether I’m in pain or happy, I’m not awesome at being present. While I haven’t excelled at much of anything during the last month, one place where I feel like I’ve experienced growth is in embracing the present. One of the prayers I've prayed during our weeks at home has been, “God, thank You for helping me to be more present than I would have if this hadn’t happened.”
God has used three scripture passages to speak to me as I’ve strived to be present and dependent on Him today, instead of being reliant on myself in the future.
God Feeds Birds
In Matthew 6, we read, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Jesus makes similar comments about God’s care for the lilies of the field. The lesson is pretty straightforward. “If God feeds birds and God clothes lilies, then aren’t we more valuable to Him than them? Won’t He care for us?”
During this season, I’ve practiced the discipline of pausing whenever I see a bird and saying to myself, “God feeds birds and I am more valuable than a bird.”
God Gives New Mercy for New Challenges
A lot of us are experiencing grief during this season. We’re trying to make sense of the death of what we thought 2020 was going to be.
When the Israelite's saw Jerusalem fall, the grief of that loss led to the creation of the book of Lamentations in the Old Testament. In chapter 3 of Lamentations, we read these words, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Several years ago, someone pointed out a powerful insight to me. This person told me, “The reason God’s mercies are fresh every morning is because we have fresh challenges each morning too.”
When my Apple Watch alarm wakes me up each morning during this crisis, I hit the snooze (just once) and take the time to think through the fresh challenges I know (or don’t know) might come that day. I then thank God for His new mercy to face them with Him.
God says, “Today’s Gonna Have Trouble, But I Will Give You What You Need.”
After teaching about how God cares for birds and flowers in Matthew 6, Jesus shares these well-known words. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
That final sentence feels like Jesus wrote it for Spring 2020. Today’s trouble is enough for today! If Jesus sent me that via text, I’d send back an epic GIF.
Each day’s troubles have felt overwhelming. We’ve felt exhausted. The constant updates and changing directives have worn us down, creating a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress.
But in addition to telling us the truth about today’s trouble, Jesus made a promise on His Father’s behalf. “He will give you everything you need” to handle today’s trouble and tomorrow’s worries. As I’ve embraced being present, this promise has checked me when I'm tempted to stop living in the moment. If God is going to give me everything I need to handle tomorrow’s trouble, then I can wait to handle those until He gives me what I need - tomorrow!
As you embrace the opportunity to be present with God each day in this challenging time, I hope the following quote from Craig Groeschel resets your perspective about today, like it has mine.
“God gives you protection against today’s threats.
God gives you His strength for today’s weaknesses.
God gives you provision for today’s needs.
God gives you peace for today’s problems.
God gives you hope for today’s despair.
God gives you light for today’s darkness.
God gives you comfort for today’s pain.”
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