There is a video link on the AHCC facebook page at the end of this article for those that would prefer to watch a video of these thoughts.
Some Pastoral Thoughts in this “Season of Concern”
Here we are in the middle of something that is much bigger than us. Here we are in an event that we never expected to be part of. Yet at the same time, we do not even know, if this corona-virus will even affect us locally or individually. Where do we look? What do we concern ourselves with, as we both face and live through this uncertain and unknown situation? Of course, we need to be wise and prudent in applying the guidelines from health officials and yet, we also need to guard ourselves from being consumed with the danger to our health and well-being by becoming overwhelmed with anxiousness or worry.
First of all, we need to release our anxieties to our Savior and Shepherd. We do this by praying as the Apostle Paul advised, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 8:12). We must trust in Christ and cast our concerns and anxieties on Him as we trust in Him knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Be prayerful and instead of spending time worrying, give the time to memorizing Scripture, so that those promises can be a fortress for your mind to find a place to find refuge and strength.
Secondly, in these times when things are so serious, we need to be thoughtful, safe and careful while at the same time resisting any impulses to panic. When we panic, we become foolish in our decisions. Instead, we need to carefully consider things, not being quick to believe everything we feel or sense but to trust in God’s Word, follow wise advice from reputable sources and seek out sensible friends. Then we need to consider what steps are appropriate in each situation and in each day and plan to do those things (Proverbs 14:16). In considering our responses and being purposeful in our actions, we will be wise, we will find prudence, knowledge and discretion (Proverbs 8:12).
Finally, we need to fix our gaze on Jesus and encourage those around us to do the same. He is the one unchanging thing upon which we can find strength. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and thus our gaze should remain upon Him. We have His secure and eternal promise, to put our trust in. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me” (John 14:1). At the same time, we need to encourage each other with the encouragement that comes from trusting in our Lord. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up …” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Individually and together, we must steady our gaze upon our Lord. Our faith must always and continually be fixed on Christ. We must gaze upon Him and trust in the care, guidance and power, He brings to us every day as we walk with Him in faith. With our gaze fixed on Christ, our faith remains fixed on Him, no matter what the struggle, danger or fear we may encounter in the moment, in the day or in the season we might find ourselves in. In bleakness, we look for God’s provision and sufficiency. In fear and danger, we look for God’s strength and rescue. In what seems overwhelming, we look for God’s mighty hand. In the impossible, we look for the possibilities of God’s presence. In the waiting, we look for God’s wisdom. In the unknowing, we look for God’s knowledge. In the hard moments, we look for God’s grace. In the shattering, we look for God’s mending. In the busy, we look for God’s calming. In the noisy, we look for God’s quieting. Our gaze needs to fixed on Christ alone and all that comes from God because we know His love is steadfastly fixed upon us and His love endures forever. When our focus is on Christ, then He becomes your strength. His grace is always sufficient because His love is so extravagantly wrapped around us in all of our days (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Here is the incredible truth, Jesus Christ, is the Author of our faith, sustains us as we persevere through all things and will meet us to be our eternal King when we finish the race of life. We can know and trust that He will carry us through every moment, every day and every season. All we have to do is trust in Him!
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV).
(Take time to memorize this Life Verse and let it be strength to you and a place of refuge for your soul.)
A little prayer for the day … “Oh Lord, steady my gaze in the bleakness, steady my gaze in danger and fear, steady my gaze in disappointment, steady my gaze in heartache and doubt, steady my gaze upon You, and You alone. Oh Lord, steady my gaze upon You, in everything I face. Steady my gaze upon You, that I may see only Your love, care, guidance, and provision. Thank you for being with me, in all that I face today, tomorrow or in the future. Lift up my heart, whenever it is troubled. In Your Name, Jesus. Amen.”will