“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV)
So much of what’s on the news today truly feels like something we’d only see in a Hollywood movie — not real life.
COVID-19 has not only spread across the world at record levels, but it’s also spread across our daily realities and changed so much for so many. Because of the life-threatening potential of the virus, social distancing and canceled gatherings are necessary precautions. We want to do what’s right, so we’re listening to officials and paying extra attention to updates and news conferences.
While all of this is necessary, it’s also jarring.
It’s like life just slammed on the brakes, and we’re all still reeling from the whiplash.
Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, saving lives is most important. But there are emotions we need to be able to process in the midst of all these sudden changes. One of those is the very real feeling of disappointment. And right behind it is the worry that expressing our disappointment could make us look petty in the midst of the seriousness of this virus.
Please know processing our disappointments is not only OK … it’s emotionally and spiritually necessary. You’re not making light of someone else’s serious pain when you process your pain to gain a better perspective.
So, first, whatever you’re going through today, it’s worth taking to the Lord and asking for His help. And second, let’s give each other grace since we are all trying to navigate unexpected fears, hardships and disappointments. Social distancing doesn’t mean we distance ourselves from offering each other grace.
With that as the anthem playing in the background … let’s process what we are facing.
Last week, I had to help a friend navigate canceling her wedding. That same day, my husband had to close the dining room of his restaurant. Other friends are trying to figure out how to make enough money to live since they’ve been told their workplace had to close. Those of us who don’t get paid when we can’t go to work are looking at scary financial realities. Schools are closed. Graduations and family gatherings are canceled. Businesses large and small are experiencing financial realities that some fear they won’t be able to overcome. Everything we thought we would be doing in this season looks vastly different than we expected, and the feelings of loss are real.
So, what do we do with those? As Christians, how do we set our minds and hearts on things above when we are staring at startling realities?
Here are some things I wrote in my journal that are helping me:
1. Frame the disappointment by remembering what you do have, so you don’t get consumed by what’s been taken.
Many of you are having to cancel or postpone important life events right now and that’s very hard. It’s incredibly emotional when you’ve dreamed and planned and invested in what you thought would be a very normal expectation.
But remember, fun has not been canceled.
Love has not been canceled.
Being good to other people has not been canceled.
Learning and growing and maturing has not been canceled.
Use this time to reframe what matters most and choose to celebrate in creative ways.
I remember telling my daughters before their weddings: Expect the unexpected and realize you can’t control the uncontrollable. But you don’t have to spin out of control with the unexpected. You bring to your wedding day what you want for your marriage. You bring the love. You bring the beauty. You bring the fun. You bring the atmosphere of joy and peace. You bring lovely to your day, and it will be amazing.
But if you bring fear and dread and epic loads of disappointment because things look different than you thought they would, you’ll fill your day with that. Your heart is much too beautiful a place for the enemy's tactics to taint it. So don’t let him.
This may be a delay. This may be a distraction. This may even be a devastation for a season. But this is not your final destination. Remember though COVID-19 has canceled many events, it has not canceled God’s goodness. Rest in that, rejoice in that, and be so very reassured.
2. Remember who God is, and use that to bring some gratitude into your disappointment.
God is a protector: He is protecting you from something you can’t see.
God is a provider: He is providing something if only you’ll look for it. Just because His provision is different doesn’t mean it’s not good.
God is present: Even when others are absent. God does incredible things in the unseen.
God is faithful: No matter what is being taken from you right now, place it in the hands of God. Give it to Him as your sacrifice. For whatever we willingly place in the hands of God, He will redeem. Martin Luther once said, “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
3. Disappointments often go hand in hand with fear of the future.
It can be so easy to let today’s disappointments make you expect the absolute worst for tomorrow. I’m challenging myself not to mentally run too far into an unknown future. I just have to make the most responsible decisions I can for today and place the rest in God’s hands. My job is to obey God. God’s job is everything else. Therefore, I can feel afraid, but I don't have to live afraid.
Now is the time to feed your faith and fuel your healthy perspectives. Make the choice today what will rule in your hearts and proclaim out loud: “Disillusioning disappointments and blinding fear, you don’t get to be the boss of me … I am ruled by the peace of Christ, and I will use His Truth to frame all I see.”
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15-16).
TRUTH FOR TODAY
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
It’s important to know your capacity to watch the news, but also know when it's time to read and watch other things to process things with Scripture and encouragement.
That’s why I want to offer you a free resource today: the introduction and first three chapters of my book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered. Click here to access this resource.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
In light of the losses we are facing, let’s thank God for what we still have. Leave a comment, and let’s encourage each other with reminders of God’s goodness.
© 2020 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.