From my desk next to an upstairs window I have a view of the upper branches of one of our backyard trees. The tree is decked in her fresh, new Spring leaves. This morning the leaves are wet with rain and the wind is fitfully tossing the branches to and fro. And from my seat I spy a single dove on one of the branches, nestled among the leaves. After each gust of wind I look, and still, she’s there.
And here, from inside my home, I find it’s easy to be storm-tossed as the bad news mounts hour after hour. From the effects of the pandemic on my own kids who are literally all around the globe, to the ever-tightening measures made by various sectors of government to protect our people and #SlowTheSpread of COVID-19, and to photos of empty grocery store shelves, there is plenty of frightening news to keep me tossing to and fro. How do I hold fast to God’s promises with each new gust of wind?
I put my phone down, for one thing. It’s too easy to keep the news scrolling before my eyes if my phone is in my hand. “I’ll just take a quick look,” rapidly becomes another hour spent consuming the insanity.
The phone put down, I pick something else up to occupy my hands and my heart. For those of you at home with children, this may look like picking up a book to read to them, a game to play with them, or a household chore to accomplish alongside them. If there are no littles home with you it may be getting the chores done early so that you can pick up that new book you’ve been meaning to read, taking up the craft you never have time for, or learning a new skill that you’ve been postponing.
The best use of my time when my heart is fearful and my mind is racing with unanswered questions is to take up my Bible and read. Filling my head and my heart with God’s word is a good idea every day. But in these days when so much that we took for granted seems to be sliding into chaos, I need assurance of what is unchangeable and true. God’s promises reassure me that no matter how hard the wind blows, he will hold me fast in the storm.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
The God who made me is the same who redeemed me. He calls me by name and I am his. When the storms assail me he will be with me. Through this pandemic I know that I will not be overwhelmed, burned, nor consumed, because the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel is my Savior. This doesn’t mean that I won’t suffer the effects of this present turmoil. It means that neither the chaos nor the virus can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord (Rom. 8:39).
Settled by his word, I can then turn to my Savior in prayer for my loved ones and myself. The dove out in the tree continues to call out through the wind and the rain. I too need to call out to God through this storm. I love my children dearly, but God’s word assures me that he loves them more. Furthermore, his wisdom and power to do for them what they need far outstrips my own abilities. And his will for them is perfect. I just want them home safe—God wants to conform them to the image of his Son. I want them to be shielded from harm—he wants them to be holy. So, in prayer, I lay them at his feet, entrusting them to his care, and asking for wisdom for them and myself.
I don’t do this perfectly, no, not by a long shot. I lost a lot of sleep last night after I learned that the Department of State is recommending the immediate return from overseas of all U.S. citizens due to the global impact of COVID-19. My youngest daughter and her husband are on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and I’m wondering if they’ll be able to get home.
But even there, God’s hand shall lead them, and his right hand shall hold them (Ps. 139:10). He is the Lord their God, their Savior.
Are you storm-tossed and weary, my friend? Put down your phone and take up God’s word. And pray. Entrust yourself and your loved ones to the Holy One who created you, who redeemed you, and who calls you by name.