The Subtle Slide

Coronavirus... winter...school schedules that change weekly...flu...quarantine...masks...no large parties...restricted travel...hearing your kids longing for (gasp) school!

With Groundhog Day fast approaching, I’m not even sure Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his hole! I think he’s in counseling (virtually, and double masked).

I’m noticing as I’m sure you have, this subtle slide in regards to a low grade depression in many people. Circumstances are indeed overwhelming at times, and, for many, maybe worse. Loneliness and isolation make us begin to think weirdly. It got so bad the other day that I almost called Pastor Josh to volunteer to watch their children (fortunately the weirdness subsided).

I can usually unwind by grabbing coffee and sitting at Starbucks...perfect... Sat outside at a metal table in 39 degree weather... very relaxing 90 seconds.

Where do we get some help here? Post Christmas, there has been a subtle slide into sadness. I’m waiting for the recommendation that Valentine’s Day celebrating is limited to one person. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Looking back in my notes I wrote in September “The Blog of Blah”, referring to the general malaise over the ongoing pandemic. We are still there, only more so. So what can I write that might be helpful? Let’s turn to a few passages in Gods Holy Word.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances" 1 Thess. 5:16-18
Brief, profound, and healing. Gratitude for the things we do have right now is critical. Take time to thank God everyday. It begins to shape our perspective, and that, along with prayer, is worship. Worship and gratitude will carry us a long way.

“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” Hebrews 10:25
We have been distancing, staying home, avoiding public gatherings, yet we need people, it’s how God made us. I’m not even going to try and tell you exactly how, but it’s time to change our thinking. This situation may linger indefinitely and it’s important that we look to the Lord to fix this piece in our lives. Pray for wisdom.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9
Confession is also worship, and good for the soul. Maybe you’ve put too much faith in politics lately. Maybe your viewing menu is less than pleasing to God. Maybe sloth has crept in. Maybe you are angry. Tell God. He already knows it. Take a walk and simply confess, asking God to clean out the ugly corners in our hearts. Confession never means that you’re this bad person, it speaks to the fact that you are a humble, honest person!

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4
Read the word. Encourage someone. Pray. Fast. Listen for his voice. Seeking the Lord is an indicator that we delight in him, and as we do, we will find him. As we find him daily, it blesses those around us.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
The present mantra is “stay safe”, which is a good thing because we care about each other’s well being. The interesting thing is that the Bible doesn’t necessarily encourage us to “be safe.” We’re told rather that if we ask for wisdom, our God will give it (we need that daily!). We’re also told that it’s likely we’ll face difficulties, trials, temptations. It’s not our job to provide our own safety net... but like this reminder from Isaiah, Gods protection, deliverance, and peace are promised again and again and again. Rest in him. And as you rest in him, keep doing, serving, moving forward!

In this whole pandemic chapter, I, like you, have had far more questions than answers. We’re all doing our best to navigate. I hope some of the above helps! My parting words for this blog at least, are: keep moving forward, walk by faith and not by sight! Don’t settle for cowering before a virus or anything else!

“...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The “subtle slide” involves our growing weary and losing heart. Fixing our gaze on Jesus is the believers only (and best) remedy!

Pete Nelson