Persevering through the pandemic: Part 1
Last year I wrote a book called, “Chart a Course: Taking a Journey With God at the Helm”. The point of the book was to encourage and equip the reader to follow the God-sized dream inside them. There are four main segments which include; plan, prepare, persevere and praise. Each segment relates to the different seasons that life presents. However, as we are all facing the COVID pandemic the section on perseverance relates to all of us. It is a global storm we are weathering together. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the insights I discovered as I wrote the perseverance segment. I hope it will equip you to endure COVID-19 and to find divine revelation through it.
Persevere: continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.
The definition of persevering is a challenge to carry on without any assurance you will succeed. This pandemic is presenting the perfect conditions for us to rise to the challenge. Most of us are sheltering in place, working under new safety protocols, or trying to adapt to new rhythms that have been forced on us during this time. There is no real end in sight. It’s depressing. It’s hard. It’s scary. We can find ourselves asking, “What is the point?”
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4 NIV)
The last words of this scripture give me hope. “Not lacking anything.” When we are able to endure hardship, pressure, and the crucible of COVID-19 we will come out on the other side having gained something of value. One of the outcomes that perseverance produces is the ability to delay gratification. What I believe we all want right now is for COVID-19 to disappear. We want to get back to work and get back to seeing our friends and family face-to-face. However, what could some potential benefits be if we must delay this desire for a time?
Persevering through the Pandemic - Delayed gratification benefits:
Facing the COVID-19 crisis with a positive mindset to persevere will change the way we come out of this pandemic. That doesn’t eliminate the pain, the uncertainty, or the time we must endure.
Practically how do we persevere well?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
First, we have to focus our thoughts. Going down a depressing rabbit hole is easy if you are constantly checking the news or the latest social media post. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be informed but we need to be intentional what we are meditating on. During this pandemic, it is important to focus on what is noble, right, pure, and lovely and admirable. There are so many examples of heroism happening in every community around the world. Let’s be people that post, share, and participate in spreading the “good news” of the times.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Second, we need to laugh. All I know is there are some really good memes out there that have made me spit out my coffee they were so funny. Here are a two of my recent favorites.
Laughing is good for us. It helps us to overcome grief, which by the way we all are grieving in some way. It helps us to relieve stress and increases the strength of your immune system. It’s not just a figure of speech...laughter is literally good MEDICINE!
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)
Lastly, all of us are grieving in some way during this COVID-19 crisis. We could be grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the simple loss of interaction with others. Regardless of what we might be grieving all of us have lost something. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to be sad. It is ok to long for the future. The key is not to stay there. Grieve as it comes and for a time, but remind ourselves that we will be together again. It might look different but it will be a glorious celebration.
Persevering through this pandemic isn’t going to be easy. It breeds uncertainty and fear, but I am confident that we can endure and be better for it in the end. I’m so encouraged by what I am already seeing around me with neighbors waving and being outside. Whole car parades for graduating seniors and birthdays. We are human beings, made in the image and likeness of our creator, and this pandemic is forcing us to get creative! As we continue to ride out this storm we can stay healthy by thinking good thoughts, laughing as often as possible, and grieving together as well. My prayer is that we “Chart a Course” (shameless plug) through this crisis to safe harbors with more faith and hope than ever before!
What are the things you are doing to help you persevere through the pandemic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Facing Financial Fear
Facing financial fear is more relevant today than ever. With COVID-19 raging through our country, businesses are scrambling to stay afloat. Layoffs and closures are happening every day at a shocking pace. My heart breaks for those who are now facing significant financial uncertainty. I understand personally what it means to not know where your next paycheck will come from.
Several years ago my husband and I found ourselves facing significant financial instability. We had started a business with friends that initially was very successful. In fact, the business performed so well the first few years that my husband left his lucrative job at Google to join the ranks. Unfortunately, shortly after this leap of faith, our business plummeted. We found ourselves living “invoice to invoice”. We had employees to feed as well as our own families. To say that I was constantly facing financial fear was an understatement.
I had grown up in a conservative midwestern town. My parents were fiscally responsible, frugal at best and cheap at worst. I was raised to save for rainy days and it was an embarrassment if you couldn’t pay your bills. So during this financial storm, I found myself battling financial lack, shame, and doubt. I wasn’t supposed to call credit card companies and ask for payment extensions. I wasn’t supposed to have employees if I couldn’t pay myself. I wasn’t supposed to have nice things if I hadn’t saved enough to own it. I wasn’t supposed to be in this situation.
The problem with all those voices inside my head was that they didn’t really help me. Shaming myself for being in the situation didn’t solve the problem. My husband and our entire team were working their fingers to the bone. We were making sacrifices every moment to stretch what little resource we had coming in. Yet we were consistently in a financial deficit. The financial fear we faced was real and it was relentless.
Financial fears have a way of multiplying themselves. Fear, in general, grows like moldy bread. I found myself considering the worst-case scenario all the time. Reality left the building. My mindset became like chicken little. As soon as I opened another bill I immediately thought about eviction notices. This lead to some serious prayer tantrums before God. I began to beg God to rescue us daily.
I wasn’t praying with faith, I was praying out of fear.
I was forced to come to terms with my beliefs. Well, truthfully it was my unbelief. I had to face my financial fears head-on.
Facing Financial Fear
I had a close personal friend challenge me. She asked if I truly believed what God said in the bible? Did I believe in his promises? At the moment, I was offended that she even asked that question. I was a God-fearing Christian. Of course, I believed in his promises. At least I thought I did.
She went on to dare me to believe before I received it. This principle wasn’t new as I had heard it from many pastors. However, I never had to walk it out before. She told me to pray over my budget as though it was profitable, even though numerically it was impossible.
Believe before your receive
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
This verse challenged me to believe in the future I couldn’t see. I realized my faith was weak. I struggled to believe for myself that God would provide. Faithful stewardship of finances was the thing that provided. Right? That is what I grew up learning and knowing deep down that hard work and effort led to security. What God showed me that I wasn’t fully trusting in him. I had positioned financial security over God.
Seek to serve God first.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
I had known this verse for most of my Christian life. In fact, the previous verses deal specifically with worrying about what you will eat, wear, drink, etc. I parked in this segment of scripture and felt convicted deeply that I was worrying constantly about these things. God promised that if I would SEEK him first that he would take care of all of those worldly needs. What did it mean for me to earnestly seek God?
Study the word of God.
I began to look into other scriptures that talked about financial promises and coping with hardships. Here are some of the ones I began praying over myself and our company.
If you are currently facing financial fears I want to challenge you to pray some of these scriptures over your own life. Look at your circumstances honestly. Ask for help if you need it. Lay down your pride and be willing to close your business or take a new job that is “below your paygrade”. I am confident that you will discover God’s plans for you are good.