Believer in a pandemic

At the onset of citywide shut downs social media was rampant with memes about ensuring one comes out of this with at minimum a business plan. However, the tone soon changed, even entrepreneurs began to call for deeper self-care and mental health care. We saw a wave of scams come to light, overwhelming unity toward racial injustices perpetrated this year against African Americans, and lost some cultural icons. One thing stands out to me more than ever before, and that is the need for God’s joy, a joy that strengthens, secures, and steadies. The one thing believers must come out of 2020 with is a deeper connection to God.

We didn’t have church to force us into religious motion, there was no beautifying of ourselves for public viewing every weekend, we didn’t have the praise team to hype us up or the pastor to demand amens with his “oh y’all don’t hear me up in here!” The only thing we had was access to the depths of God, the depths of godly joy and peace. Because even in the midst of so much loss, we still have to pick up the pieces and carry on, wading through shock, grief and sometimes loneliness from quarantine. How do you want to carry on through the rest of 2020, and how do you want to come out? You can’t control carrying on with your job, you can’t control carrying on disease or interruption free, you can’t control what happens to the economy or even whether a loved one dies from this new plague making its mark in history. How do I know? I found out I was pregnant almost a year after sterilization, I was laid off at the height of the pandemic with another mouth to feed on the way, my uncle passed away, beloved ones were loved ones, I even have a text message in my phone informing me that my brother passed away (thankfully he is alive and fighting for his every breath). 2020 has come with a lot of twists and turns, and yet, for the believer, we cannot be tossed about by the happenings of life, we must anchor in faith as we move through the various phases and STILL let our light so shine before men that they may see and glorify God our Father. Tribulation must cultivate patience, which in the end cultivates hope (Romans 5:3).

How have you demonstrated the difference Jesus Christ makes in your life through this pandemic?

If you’ve struggled, you’re not alone. The beauty is we have a gracious Father who is ready to forgive our sins, cleanse us of ungodly mindsets, love us, dwell with us and rejoice over us (Zephaniah 3:17). I pray that this post reminds you that right now is the time to practice meditating on His word day and night (Ps.1:2), and praying constantly (Rom 12:12). It is the time to learn to slow down and look for His hand at work, look for the joy of The Lord in this tribulation (James 1:2). Even more so, to listen for His voice in all we do (John 10:27-28), to recalibrate the mind and kick pride and self-sufficiency to the curb (Ps 3:5). This entire year is a reminder that all life is as grass, our identity cannot come from our careers or possessions.

Beloved, God’s goal for the believer is Himself, His presence, His will done, His kingdom come. Is God our goal for ourselves? Some of us haven’t been to church in months, has being isolated from the church building resulted in us retreating from God instead of retreating with God? Now is the time to be intentional about delighting ourselves in God, recognizing and holding Him as our treasure (Ps 37:4-5). These things don’t come from going to church, and perhaps the stripping away has shown you that you’ve been negligent in your relationship with God and the lavishing of your affections (time spent, adoration & obedience) toward God. Nevertheless, our Father is gracious, and merciful and welcomes our repentance and submission (apology and change).

Choose to go deeper with God, open your life and heart to Him, even when you don’t feel like, when the fuzzy feelings aren’t there, when the day was hard, or when it was spectacular. This doesn’t mean you highlight every Bible verse, but perhaps you take one verse and study it for a few days, pray it, memorize it, internalize it, live it out. It doesn’t matter if you recite or write your prayers, PRAY. Have your own praise and worship daily, go on nature walks around the neighborhood and pray within, think about the scripture, worship Him.

Choose to go deeper in the joy of His presence:

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Spend more time praying and studying the Bible. Time in the Bible & prayer will strengthen us, and transform our thinking, thereby anchoring our faith in Jesus Christ. The choice to spend time with God not only honors the command to pray without ceasing, but is a big part of learning who He is and loving Him. A stronger devotion lifestyle enables us to reject godless doctrines propagated by even the biggest of megachurches, and it enables us to spot error instead of internalizing falsehood. In this pandemic, there is no better place to be than in His presence perpetually. Study His word and see how it says we ought to enter His gates and courts, reverence and honor Him, all the while being sincere and open. Pray for a heart to love His presence, delight in His voice and see how your life is beautified as a result.

Psalm 119:11 I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Psalm 63:6-8 When I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to You; your right hand upholds me.

Choose a deeper casting of cares:

Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.

It’s been hard not to worry, whether for yourself, a loved one, your finances or a friend, in this time we have to not only have a stronger faith but a more sincere surrender. I often ask God to help me not to pick up something I’ve laid at His feet, to keep me from focusing on what I am unable to do, and fix my mind on what I am convinced He can do. I often ask Him to please get all the glory from a situation, do a work that can be attributed to no one but Him. I see Him doing it, even in the midst of me having to continually convince myself by reframing my thoughts through the scriptures. God is the arbiter of my reality, it doesn’t matter what is beyond my capability, He is my Savior and my peace. Give Him everything, He will tell you your part in His work, just listen for His voice as you read the Bible, as you pray, clean, worship dream.

Choose deeper obedience:

Whatever you believe God has required of you in this season, obedience is the only right response. If He told you to start counseling, mentoring, open a business, quit your job and be there for your kids, relocate, be there for your parents, reconcile with a frenemy… whatever, JUST DO IT and do it expeditiously. This pandemic has taken scores of lives, has it not proven that we don’t get to decide if we have tomorrow to obey? No one is sure they won’t be on the ventilator tomorrow or in a coma, or paralyzed, there must be a deeper sense of urgency within us as Christians. Equally as important to note is that obedience is a demonstration of love and faith. There is no way any of us believe the God of the universe, Jehovah commanded us to do something and we treat it like a suggestion. If you’re going to say “God told me,” prove it with obedience.

Ps 25:4-5 Make me to know Your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Make the choice to experience God’s joy, peace and presence, so that He will be glorified in how you endured this pandemic. Don’t allow the isolation, and stress of current affairs become the fruit of your journey, you may not come out with a business, but you can come out transformed, beautified by grace, and ready to shine even brighter.

Grace & Peace,

Shonda Angelou


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