Patience, Perspective, Peace

This unique and often lonely and isolating time continues.

We are at war. The enemy is unseen, the battle is ruthless and indiscriminate, and the duration is unknown. I have relatives in New Zealand and the United Kingdom and we’re all facing the same challenges. Usually in wartime the soldiers head for the front line and wish they could stay at home. In this encounter the soldiers are ordered to remain at home for the enemy to be defeated. So how do we encourage one another to be at home but not feel confined and stagnant?

As in most challenging and unwelcome situations beyond out control we can either retreat as victims in anger; or embrace what is – with acceptance. Perhaps even a confident defiance. Which means making the best and the most of what the day offers, wherever we happen to be.

Most of the really inspiring stories of human courage and fortitude are seldom found reclining in deckchairs on sun-drenched beaches sipping margaritas. Instead they emerge from conditions of hardship, unforeseen circumstances, and frequently unjust treatment between fellow human beings.

In all our various challenges I’m sure we want to call up our best selves. We want to emerge on the other side alive; having learned, grown, and even accomplished what we could never have anticipated at the outset. I love the affirmation by Joseph in the Old Testament. His family abandoned and betrayed him. After many years they were reunited when he’d endured suffering and become influential and powerful. Joseph’s faith in God’s faithfulness through every circumstance flowed from his heart at the sight of his kin who were afraid and guilty. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20

In times like these it’s helpful and important to keep our eyes on the big picture. Joseph’s journey led him from abandonment through imprisonment, betrayal, and many years of servitude before he was raised up – what faith and patience did he require?! Last week we thought about the Apostle Paul imprisoned unjustly and frequently chained and confined. Shortly before he faced death (beheaded for his commitment to Jesus) he wrote letters to Timothy, one of the disciples he mentored for many years. What would you say in a last letter to a friend?

Paul’s letters are devoid of fear, self-pity, or anger. Instead he encourages Timothy and is incredibly self effacing; displaying a deeply mature self awareness juxtaposed with a rock-solid assurance in God’s goodness. The phrase I’m referring to is Paul’s testimony after many years as a Christian declaring that he was the greatest of sinners to whom God displayed great patience. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16

As we negotiate these challenging times we’ll require much patience. We will grow frustrated, impatient, and maybe even experience some tensions at home. Let’s learn from Paul and be kind to ourselves and others. God is very patient with who we are and who we’re becoming with Him. Some old stuff and habits will probably resurface as we have so much time on our hands. Nowhere to run and not so much busyness to avoid ourselves and others. Let this be an opportunity to allow a supremely patient and kind Father God to walk alongside us. He wants to help us where we are, not where we religiously think we should be. The potter molds and shapes the clay hands on as the wheel spins. That’s what’s happening now between us and Him. An opportunity possibly to revisit things neglected or buried. Yes, God’s love rescues, redeems, and recycles.

Perspective is also important. At least we’re not facing bombs and bullets, air raids, and invasions. But this battle still demands effort and commitment from each of us to look out for others. Remember God’s love that expanded to the point where He sent His Son to break the sin virus over humanity? Jesus left His home in heaven to be confined in a human body; to die on a Cross to break the virus and take it upon Himself. That confinement took thirty three years in order to win freedom and a ‘vaccination’ for those who wanted it.

God knows first hand what it’s like to watch people in denial refusing to acknowledge their condition and ignoring His indescribable gift. When we think of the price we are paying and the inconvenience, it’s not that bad. Confining ourselves in order that we become part of the solution, not the problem is something we want to do.

Be inspired by others who have gone before us and endured confinement and restriction with resilience and courage. You probably have examples of your own. Anne Frank, the young teenage girl who hid with her family for two years (in a small space) from German troops is one example. She wrote a famous diary published by her father Otto, who was the only survivor after the war, Anne died three months before the end of the war in Bergen Belsen Concentration camp.

She wrote:

“It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death,” she wrote on July 15, 1944. “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Spend time exploring Anne Frank’s hiding place, The Secret Annex, how they spent their days, her diary, and more…. fascinating and inspiring: https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/

Nelson Mandela is another famous example of triumph through years of imprisonment. Here’s a short interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPM6lhs6EU8

Read a section of Mandela’s memoirs about the daily routine during what he called ‘the dark years’: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/mandela/prison/darkyears.html

With patience and perspective we can receive the peace that comes from God as we invite Him into our present. We are reminded that He is greater that our circumstance and He is with us in the midst of our storm – breathing peace with His presence. So when fear arises let ‘the peace that passes understanding’ fill us with the assurance of God’s faithfulness.

Then don’t just sit around twiddling thumbs….. 🙂 Do something wild and different. Read books you’d love to read but never had time. Explore this site for inspiration: https://www.goodreads.com/

Why not take a Masterclass in cooking, or writing or ? It will cost you a small fee but it’s worth the investment. Anyway you’re saving money not going out. I’ve been digging into classes by well know authors. Check it out and take a dive: https://www.masterclass.com/

Or there are plenty of resources for renovation projects, Christian Growth, photography, exercise, painting, gardening, Netflix…….

Maybe you’ve wanted to play an instrument and been intimidated to try again. I felt that way about the piano a few years ago. Then I found this site and enrolled for a few lessons…. It opened up a new world which I really enjoy…. https://www.musicademy.com/

If you have an example of an inspiring figure or an idea ‘for something to do’ please feel free to share.

If you browse the link to Anne Frank you’ll read how the family had a daily routine that helped them use their time well. That maybe a helpful suggestion for some of us.

As Charles Dickens wrote in the famously quoted beginning of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’….

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

We are not alone, and in our weakness God is faithful and strong. May this week be much better than the last one, and not as good as the one to come.

Now, to the one with enough power to prevent you from stumbling into sin and bring you faultless before his glorious presence to stand before him with ecstatic delight, to the only God our Savior, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be endless glory and majesty, great power and authority—from before he created time, now, and throughout all the ages of eternity. Amen. Jude 24-25

Spirit Lead Me – Influence Music and Michael Ketterer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ko4yroBP0A

Lyrics

This is my worship
This is my offering
In every moment
I withhold nothing
I’m learning to trust You
Even when I can’t see it
And even in suffering
I have to believe it

If You say “it’s wrong”, then I’ll say “no”
If You say “release”, I’m letting go
If You’re in it with me, I’ll begin
And when You say to jump, I’m diving in
If You say “be still”, then I will wait
If You say to trust, I will obey
I don’t wanna follow my own ways
I’m done chasing feelings
Spirit lead me

It felt like a burden
But once I could grasp it
You took me further
Further than I was asking
And simply to see You
It’s worth it all
My life is an altar
Let Your fire fall

If You say “it’s wrong”, then I’ll say “no”
If You say “release”, I’m letting go
If You’re in it with me, I’ll begin
And when You say to jump, I’m diving in
If You say “be still”, then I will wait
If You say to trust, I will obey
Teach me how to follow in Your ways
I’m done chasing feelings
Spirit lead me

Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me

When all hope is gone
And Your word is all I’ve got
I have to believe
You still bring water from the rock
To satisfy my thirst
To love me at my worst
And even when I don’t remember
You remind me of my worth

I don’t trust my ways
I’m trading in my thoughts
I lay down everything
‘Cause You’re all that I want
I’ve landed on my knees
This is the cup You have for me
And even when it don’t make sense
I’m gonna let Your Spirit lead

I’m gonna let Your Spirit lead (Spirit lead me)
I’m gonna let Your Spirit lead (Spirit lead me)
I’m gonna let Your Spirit lead (Spirit lead me)Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me

If You say “it’s wrong”, then I’ll say “no”
If You say “release”, I’m letting go
If You’re in it with me, I’ll begin
And when You say to jump, I’m diving in
If You say “be still”, then I will wait
If You say to trust, I will obey
You’re the only truth, the life, the way
I’m done chasing feelings
Spirit lead me

Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me
Spirit lead me

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Gabriel Wilson

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s