Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
Today has been hard and upsetting and a rollercoaster of emotions. There seems to be more and more bad news, and quite frankly I’m tired of hearing it.
School has been canceled and moved online for the rest of the semester. More and more people are getting sick. Everyone is being asked to practice social distancing and quarantining which has resulted in more frustration as some act as if the rules don’t apply to them and others are taking this as seriously as they can.
My church building is gone. Right before COVID-19 became a pandemic, a tornado tore through Nashville leaving behind destroyed homes and businesses. In the midst of all this, there are people lacking homes and workplaces that they had a month ago.
Panic is everywhere, and everyone is an expert. I hear different things every day and a lot of it doesn’t align. Some people are deeply troubled; while others are carrying on with life as if nothing is happening.
Deeply frustrated, I picked up my devotional book and the title for today’s reading read “Why Perseverance Matters.” And it made me choke up. Why does it matter? Why do I need to keep pushing forward in this season of so much uncertainty?
“Brave people don’t just give up,” the author wrote. “Brave people realize that we rejoice in our sufferings because it leads to perseverance and perseverance produces character, and ultimately, it brings us to the hope we have in Jesus.”
Hope is worth fighting for.
When we get to the other side of this chapter that has been ingrained into each of our stories, my hope is that none of us look the same. If this leaves us unchanged, we have wasted what this should be teaching us.
This is a moment we can choose to reflect on the goodness of God. This a moment to examine our lives and see each and every gift God has blessed us with.
I can choose to wallow in pity over losing the rest of my semester, or I can look at it as a time that I get to spend at home with my family for an extended period of time.
I can allow worry to overtake my mind about what this disease will bring to so many, or I can do my part and stay home, pray for those all around the world that are being affected, and fight for a positive mindset.
I can view this as a ruined week, month, year or I can view this as a divine detour. What if God is trying to get your attention while you’re sitting in this moment?
In a book I’m currently reading, one pastor asks another “Are you too exhausted to run and too scared to rest?”
While this book is fictional, that line struck a chord that rings true of me. I’m exhausted of trying to outrun my situation. I’ve been scared to rest because I’m so used to a lifestyle and culture built around hustling every day.
Could this be a moment for you to truly rest? Could God be inviting you to take a step back while you’re at home and learn what it means to sabbath?
Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. – Mark 6:31
I think I’m learning from this not that I’m losing control, but that I never had the control to begin with. And that’s a rude awakening for an Enneagram 8. I’ve been clinging to control when no matter how tight I grasp the rope I come up empty handed. It’s never been as evident as it is in this moment.
Let go of control. You never had it to begin with. Speak truth into people. Bring life to this situation. When people begin to spiral into negative thoughts, don’t feed into it. Speak what the character of God is.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:45
Relinquishing control also shows us what kind of foundation we’ve built our lives on. Is the flood washing away your foundation, or is your foundation standing firm? It’s not too late to lay a solid foundation. Place your trust and hope in Jesus.
They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. – Luke 6:48-49
Take this time to build upon the foundation God wants for you. Spend time in His Word. Listen to sermons and podcasts. Write letters to your people. Turn off your phone for a day or a week. Delete social media for a while.
I know you’ll see a difference. If we spend less time dwelling in what cannot be changed, and more time dwelling in the Lord who never changes, I believe we’ll see fruit fall from the trees.
Need some encouraging music? Want to read a good book? Here’s a few songs, books, online church services, and workout plans to pass the time and to take care of ourselves.
- “No Matter How Long It Takes” by Crosspoint Music, Cheryl Stark
- “I’m Listening” by Chris McClarney, Hollyn
- “Ever Be” by Bethel Music, kalley
- “I’ll Give Thanks” by Housefires, Kirby Kaple
- “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams
- “Peace Be Still” by Belonging Co., Lauren Daigle
- “So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong UNITED
- “Defender” by Francesca Battistelli
- “Not in a Hurry” by Will Raegan, United Pursuit
- “It’s Gonna Get Better” by Stars Go Dim
- “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by UPPERROOM, Elyssa Smith
- “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship
- “Way Maker” by Passion, Kristian Stanfill, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes
- “Yes and Amen” by Housefires
- “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong United
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio for an easy, happy read
- Educated by Tara Westover for a non-fiction, can’t put down read
- At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon for an old soul, 1990s bestseller about an Episcopalian preacher and his quirky hometown
- We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter for a gripping Holocaust story
- Beginner’s Pluck by Liz Bohannon for an inspirational read to inspire your entrepreneurial spirit
- Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult aka my favorite read
- The Lake House by Kate Morton for a wild, well-written mystery
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng for unexpected twists and turns (also now a series on Hulu!)
- What If It’s True? by Charles Martin for a read that may very well change your spiritual life and the way you think about Jesus
- Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen for a timely read about getting out of your head and stopping the spiral of toxic thoughts
Online Church Services:
- Crosspoint – Sundays every hour on the hour 10 am – 6 pm ET. www.crosspoint.tv/live
- First Baptist Church Tifton – 10:50 am ET through Facebook live. https://www.facebook.com/fbctifton/
- C3 NYC – every hour on the hour 9 am – 9 pm ET. http://live.c3.nyc/
- Auburn Community Church – 11 am ET. https://www.auburncommunitychurch.com/
- Watermark Community Church – 10 am & 12:15 pm ET. https://www.watermark.org/live
Free Workout Apps / Websites
- DownDog – free through July
- Barre – free through July
- HIIT – free through July
- 7 Minute Workout – free through July
- Active by PopSugar – free
- BeachBody – two week free trial
- Peloton – 90 day free trial
- Barre 3 – 15 day free trial
What are you doing today to persevere? How can I be praying for you? Let me know in the comments!