Firm Footing for the COVID-19 Storm

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Coronavirus 2019 has spread a dark cloud over the world, wreaking havoc like a massive hurricane. Not only has the disease itself gripped people in fear, but so has the economic uncertainty due to the shutdown of businesses and the furloughing of employees. School closures have forced parents to juggle working from home and supervising their children.

The shelter-in-place orders add emotional strain to households whose members may not be accustomed to spending all day together. Depression, suicide, and domestic violence rates have increased.

How long must we stay at home? How long must we practice social distancing? How long will the economy be shutdown and millions out of work?

The proverbial rug has been pulled out from under our nation—and the world. The pandemic has knocked us off balance. Undeniably, what lies beneath the rug will determine whether one stands or falls. On what foundation have you built your life? Will it endure this crisis?

Life’s Foundation

Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount with a parable about two builders. The wise man built his house upon the rock, and it weathered the storm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand, and it collapsed. The wise man represents the one who acts on Jesus’ words and the foolish man, the one who doesn’t act on Jesus’ words.

When you trust and obey Jesus, you build your life on the Rock that withstands all the storms of life. Notice that Jesus doesn’t prevent the storms. He supports those who trust him through the storms. Obeying the Lord begins with fearing only him.

Fear Only the Lord

Following the Read Scripture app this past week, I’ve jumped from 2 Kings and the destruction of Israel and Judah to the prophet Isaiah. I read in Isaiah 8:12b-13:

Do not fear what they fear;
do not be terrified.
You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy.
Only he should be feared;
only he should be held in awe.

When you trust in the Lord, you don’t need to panic when life gets hard and the future grows dim. Jesus promised that we would have trouble in this world. However, he also promised he would give us the strength to endure it.

Verses of Encouragement

  • The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    Whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the defense of my life;
    Whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1)
  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)
  • God is our refuge and strength,
    A very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
  • Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
    He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)
  • A bruised reed He will not break
    And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
    He will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:3)
  • My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Fickle Feelings

To some, these verses may ring hollow. While in the pit of despair during my 20s, I hated 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I didn’t feel comfort from God, and my anger burned against him for not giving it to me. Why did I have to live with the emotional anguish caused by clinical depression and anxiety? I filled the pages of my journals with my frustration that God didn’t live up to my expectations. As a 22-year-old, I nearly chucked my faith.

In my last post, I summarized the ideas of John Marriot’s book, A Recipe for Disaster. Marriott described people like me as being Half Baked. I lacked a full understanding of who God was, and I held unrealistic expectations about him, such as God should prevent Christians from getting depressed. Reading the story of Elijah after his victory at Mount Carmel or Lamentations by prophet Jeremiah demonstrates that even heroes of the faith struggled with depression. I held the wrong view of God.

Now, I recognize that clinical depression is a medical condition treatable with medication. But meds are not enough. I required a renewed mind as well as adjusted brain chemistry. To do this called for my pushing aside the temporal feelings that tossed me to and fro. Despite my fickle feelings, I made a rational decision to acknowledge the evidence for God and to trust that he had my best interests in mind. As the psalmist found it necessary to speak to his soul, my mind needed to talk to my heart:

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 42:11

Even when we feel God has forgotten us (42:9), we need to continually remind ourselves that God is good and always there.

Grieve and Praise God

Concurrently, allow yourself to grieve your losses, even the small ones. High school and college seniors have lost their graduation ceremonies. Fathers have missed the births of their children due to no visitors being allowed in hospitals. Those in nursing homes or live alone long for hugs that social distancing has denied them. All of us have lost familiar routines and the ability to gather with family and friends.

To process these losses walk, talk, cry, and pray. Don’t stuff these feelings of loss. Share them with God. Use the psalms in which the author cries out to God even when he feels abandoned (Psalm 42:9) as a guide. It’s okay to express your emotions. Speak them out loud or write them in a journal. Just don’t let them rule you.

Once you have aired your feelings, be still and know he is God. Praise him for all he has done. Make a cognitive choice to do so. In time, the feelings will follow.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:21b

Foundation of Sand

Has COVID-19 or another life storm swept away the foundation of your life? Even believers can find themselves building their lives on things other than Christ.

In college, I pursued high grades. I achieved my goal of graduating from college summa cum laude, yet I found it empty. Academic achievement had become my idol, and it failed to fulfill me. This contributed to my depression mentioned earlier.

Perhaps you, too, have created an idol by building your life on a job, investments, health, a relationship, professional advancement, or academic or athletic achievement. Now COVID has shaken or crushed that foundation. Do you need to reassess your source of hope and meaning?

Build Your Life on the Rock

If you are already a Christ follower, yet the storms of life seemed to have washed you out to sea, consider whether you’ve made an idol out of something in your life. Repent and return by putting God first in your life.

If you aren’t a Christ-follower but want a sure foundation for your life, chose to build it on Christ:

  1. Confess to God that you are a sinner (someone who has rebelled against the will of God) and ask him to forgive you for your sins.
  2. Believe that Jesus’ died in your place to pay the penalty for your sins and rose again to show he has conquered sin and death.
  3. Ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

When you do this, you become a member of God’s family. Share this decision with someone and find a biblical church family to join. Ask a mature believer to train you on how to study the Bible, pray, and follow God’s will.

Coronavirus-19 has rocked our world, but Jesus is the unmovable rock on which you can stand firm to weather the storm—if you allow him to.

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