As much as I did not want to talk about this pandemic thing again, I simply felt compelled to do so. I am doing this once more this morning not to point out the weaknesses I see in others but, instead, what I see and feel happening in my own world; my own life; and with all those I surround myself with on a daily basis.
I do not believe I need to point out all the things that are going on in our world as a result of this crisis but, nonetheless, let me bring out a few facts I gathered from “professionals” across the country.
Please allow me just a few moments to mention these things and then I would like to express a couple of issues that I believe is of major importance that we realize and try harder to overcome.
Painfully Simple Stats
First, and obviously most important statistics are those surrounding the virus itself. These numbers are as of May 2nd, (Saturday) 2020: 212 Countries and Territories affected!
- The new cases are going down and recoveries are up!
So many people have lost their lives. We have lost parents; grandparents; nieces; nephews; husbands; wives and our own children!
As if this wasn’t tragic enough, the world has become a completely different place to live. We are no longer living as we were, and no longer enjoy the “niceties” we once had:
- Lost Jobs – We have more people out of work today than we have had in quite some time.
- Extended Hours –For those lucky enough to have retained their jobs, we are working extended hours to compensate for the ones that lost them.
- Reduced Pay – Businesses are struggling to stay open and, as a result, have reduced the pay of those still employed to cover continuing business expense.
As A Result
(making it even worse)
From www.pbs.org: Policy supports had not reached families yet. The federal government, states, and localities have quickly sought to address families’ needs, but we find a gap between announced policies and what families are actually getting on the ground. Very few families are accessing announced resources:
- Only 45% of those who have been laid off have applied for Unemployment Insurance (UI)
- Only 4% of those who have been laid off have received any Unemployment Insurance (despite the waiting period being waived)
- Only 11% have picked up a grab-and-go meal at a public school
- Only 1% have accessed emergency childcare
- Only 50% of families with a school-aged child have received promised distance learning
- Only 51% currently receive SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps)
So, as you can see, there is still a lot of work to be done on our parts across America. Not only do these programs need to be more readily available, but we need to start utilizing them!
Okay, enough with the stats… let’s talk about us!
Okay, I think I’ve talked about these things perhaps far too much over the past few weeks and I might be boring you with the statistical details as I’m sure you’re keeping up to date on your own.
But, all this being said, and all this being sad… there is an underlying menace lurking out there today which I believe poses an equally dangerous threat to all of us.
Governor Ron DeSantis (5/2) – “We have fear that’s permeating our society. People are experiencing chest pains, heart trouble, panic attacks, and mental health problems throughout the state.”
It was a strange coincidence that Mr. DeSantis talked about this yesterday as I happened to be in the middle of writing this message. Perhaps a sign? I’d like to think it was.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a living terror in my household.
- We’re stuck in the house together.
- We can’t go anywhere (following the rules), so we’re struggling to find ways to occupy our time.
- We’re getting a bit cranky, even to the point of hostile towards those we love.
So, what do you believe is causing us to act the way we are today? Of course, this pandemic is eating away at our lives and we’re fighting battles we’ve never been braced for, but don’t you believe it may have to do with “US?”
Let’s start with Anxiety… (from Webster’s dictionary)
A-N-X-I-E-T-Y – A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Yes, an “uncertain outcome!” Something we’re not trained to handle and probably not adequately equipped for today.
We’ve always been “in control” of our environment. We always seemed to find a way to get through life’s daily struggles with minimal effort… because that how we’ve been trained! Well, this isn’t what I’d consider to be a “daily” or “normal” thing as I know it and, quite frankly, I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing to get by.
So, as human beings, what comes into play when we’re no longer able to cope with our daily struggles as we simply just don’t know how? PRIDE! Yes, at the center of our anxiety, is our pride.
P-R-I-D-E (again, from Webster’s) – A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
What letter is in the center of both these words (anxiety and pride)? What letter surrounds anxiety and pride? That’s right, it’s “I.”
- “I” can’t pay my bills!
- “I” can’t put food on my family’s table!
- “I” can’t seem to make ends meet!
- “I” feel inadequate and unworthy in life!
- “I” don’t know how to do this!
- “I” don’t’ think I can!
- “I” am not strong enough!
We’ve have to stop thinking this way as anxiety and pride… delivering so much unnecessary, are tools of the devil!
Now, if you stop and truly think about things as Christians, I’d like you to ask yourselves this simple question…
Am I bearing a weight I am not meant to bear?
The obvious answer to this question is, yes… you are!
I’d like to read to you from 1 Peter in our Bible this morning but first let me first clarify why your answer should have been yes to my simple question.
1 Peter 5:6-7 – 6“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
If we want to get things right, ease our burdens and better cope with all that’s happening around us today, we need to give our cares and worries into God’s Mighty Hand!
I’d like to go on further with 1 Peter 5 as I feel this chapter as some very good lessons for all of us: Pastors, Elders and All!
1 Peter 5
This is the fifth and last chapter of the First Epistle (letter) of Peter in the New Testament of our Bible. This is what Peter delivered to his followers in Rome.
As Peter begins in this chapter, he starts off by addressing the Elders of the church, reminding them they are witnesses of Christ’s sufferings. We need to take heed from Peter in this chapter! Please allow me to read further…
1“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:”
To the Elders and Pastors
2“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
To the Flock
5“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.’”
6“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
8“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
10“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
We need to let this go… stop letting pride get in the way of our peace, causing us such tremendous anxiety!
All of this turmoil going on in our world is not our burden to bear. Stop thinking you are unworthy because you have no understanding of how to cope with all of this… Leave it in God’s hands!
When We Need Rest
One of the best ways to conquer anxiety (from Healthline.com (yes, I’m Googling again)…
- Only sleeping at night when you’re tired
- Not reading or watching television in bed
- Not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- Not tossing and turning in your bed if you can’t sleep; get up and go to another room until you feel sleepy
- Avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
- Keeping your room dark and cool
- Writing down your worries before going to bed
- Going to sleep at the same time each night
For us, as Christians, we most certainly know where we can obtain rest! Here is God’s “natural cure!”
God Will Give Us Rest!
When Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, freedom from slavery, he wasn’t exactly sure what to do either… so he asked God…
Exodus 33:14 – “The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Kind David knew where he could get rest…
Psalm 62:1 – “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.”
From our Savior Himself… always telling us where we could find our rest!
Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:29 – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
As we discussed last week, keep those Bibles opened! Look to the scripture… the messages from God and lessons from Christ!
Don’t let all that’s going on destroy your lives or the lives of your family. Don’t let foolish pride lead to anxiety, anger and animosity. This isn’t about “YOU” or “I…” it is about “US,” the church, believing and having faith in the Love and everlasting kindness of our Father in Heaven and His Holy Son. Give Him praise… and await the glory of His healing power. Amen!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)