Welcome, everyone, Heidi and I wanted to take a break from our series on the 10 commandments, to speak into this worldwide pandemic, of the coronavirus that we find ourselves living through today. Now, we want you to know the Howertons and the Ortlunds are well, but we are recording from our own homes in order to cooperate with all the guidelines our government and medical providers have set for us for our own safety. And a big thanks to you, Heidi, I’m looking at you through my computer and to others up on our committed team here at Renewal Ministries for making this possible.
Yes, I wanted you guys to know Jani and I are recording from a different zoom chat and we’re each at our homes today because our family had a possible exposure to Coronavirus last week. Thankfully, no one is showing signs or symptoms and so we really hope that we had not gotten it from that but I just had to laugh because, Jani, you know me I’m a more I like to take precautions. And so two weeks ago when I saw this, the nurse in me thought oh this is going to be concerning, I started getting food. We really before mandates came out started watching church online and huddling in and we took a lot of precautions except Hannah was going to her tutorial, her homeschool tutorial two days a week and Mike was going to work. And still the Lord reminded me and his sweetness when we got the email that’s a teacher at her school was a confirmed case and I thought you know, here I am taking all the precautions. There’s only 19 cases in our state. And what are the chances that Hannah would be exposed through a teacher at our teeny tiny homeschool tutorial in Franklin, Tennessee. And it was just served as a good reminder that the Lord is sovereign. And I just heard his blessing saying yes, Heidi, take the necessary precautions. That’s good. And at the same time, remember that I’m sovereign, and you can trust me. And so the Lord’s will and hand was in that case coming to our homeschool tutorial, and I can really come under his shelter and find rest. And I was thankful for that.
Yes, Heidi, thank you for your trust in the Lord over that it was so surprising to me also to hear that one of Hannah’s teachers had been a confirmed case.
Yeah, thankfully we heard this morning that she is recovering, and she’s feeling better. So we are so so thankful and it’s so far nobody else in the tutorial has gotten it.
Wonderful may that continue. One of our neighbors has it here in our community. And so who knew, and we don’t know the future, only God does.
You know, and until recently, I never saw how related pandemic and panic are not in their etymology but in their sounds, they both start with the same sound, and in the effect they have on each other. I wonder if any of our listeners have felt the panic over this pandemic in the grocery stores or on the newscast? They’ve seen it? Maybe our listeners have felt it rise in their own homes at times or even in their own hearts? How can this tiny microbe hold such power over us? We can’t even see it but it’s so powerful. Heidi and I know that many of you are facing new and unprecedented circumstances these days, in your homes, in your health, with your family members, with your friends, in your jobs, and probably in your bank accounts as well.
An Exciting Time To Be A Christian
But we want to encourage you, we feel that this is an exciting time to be a Christian. We now have the privilege of seeing how our faith applies to unwanted, unasked for historic changes. And probably even some hardships in the months ahead. How can we best serve our king and his kingdom purposes during this pandemic? Oh, this is a huge topic. But we wanted to speak into it through our podcast, at least in this one episode. We have enough to say for several but we’ll keep this to one for now.
How Can We Live As Christians In The Midst Of The Confusion?
So we want to talk about two questions today. The first one is how can we live as Christians in the midst of the confusion, the questions, and the chaos that’s swirling around us. Well, let’s look to Scripture to see how we can live as Christians in the midst of all that’s going on around us. First of all, think of Ephesians 5:10.
“Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”Ephesians 5:10
That’s one way we can live. And don’t you love that first word? I think I’ve mentioned this verse before, because it means so much to me, try to discern, we don’t have to be perfect in this. All we need to do is just try to bring a smile to God’s face. Another one of the Scriptures that I think about so often is when the Lord commands us to fear not. We see this so many times in Scripture. We take it as a suggestion but really, it’s in the imperative mood. It’s a command. I think, I haven’t counted this, Heidi, I don’t know what you think. I think it’s probably the most often repeated command in the Bible. How much is the presence of God, His sacrificial love to bring me into an intimate relationship to the death of his son, how much is his sovereign rule, his wisdom, his power, how much are all of these worth to me? Fear not.
An Example From Jani’s Life
I’ve struggled with fear throughout my life. And I remember one time, I was particularly fearful over what some men were doing, they were making decisions that would greatly affect both Ray and me. And I was so fearful. And Mom Ortlund was here. And I remember her just standing next me at the sink and saying, “So Jani, now you’re going to add the sin of fear to their sins?” Well, I had to stop and pause and I had never thought of fear as a sin. But she said, “Jani, I think the Bible has more than 365 fear nots in it. I’ve never come to them. But that’s what I’ve heard. That’s one for every day. So you’ve got one fear not for today, why not camp on it?” I don’t know about you, Heidi, but I have to deal with my fears, not just try to stuff them and tell myself, “Okay, fear not, Jani, just get up.” I have to deal with them. I have to think, what is the root of my struggle? What is the root of my anxiety? Or my worry? I don’t want to let it just circle around in my head. I want to take those thoughts out and verbalize them. I want to talk to the Lord about them and ask him, “Father, is this anxiety? Is this fear I have? Is this from you? Is this a divine caution from your throne room? Or maybe, is this a difficulty I’m I’m blowing out of proportion that your spirit has not given me, I’m thinking it up? Or even could this anxiety be a taunting trap from your enemy?”
Instead of feeding our hearts and minds with the energy of anxieties and worries, let’s learn to feed our minds and souls with the truths of Scripture that speak into our particular fears. Especially at this time, when lives are at stake. Let’s find a promise that we can claim whenever those fears come calling. And let’s keep claiming that promise over and over and over again, until the fear no longer haunts us, or until we see Christ face to face where all fears will fade forever. I can’t wait for that day.
Promises To Cling To
Some promises that Heidi and I cling to that we meditate on are these.
1. God Is Near
First of all, God is near in this pandemic. He’s not far off. He knows what he’s doing and he will help calm us.
I love Isaiah 41:13.
“For I the LORD your God hold your right hand. It is I hate to say to you, fear not. I am the one who helps you.”Isaiah 41:13
I love that he holds my right hand. Ssometimes when I’m fearful, I just reach my right hand up and I say, “Here’s my hand, Lord, hold on to me and I’ll fear not.” Or what about that wonderful verse in Isaiah 26:3 that many of us know by heart. “You God you will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.” And then this next phrase is important, “because he trusts in you.” That mind, you know, our minds are what wander. We need to keep them stayed on God, we need to keep calling the back. Okay, Lord, I’m trying to trust you in this situation but this anxiety keeps coming up again and again. Help me I just want to keep trusting in you. Help my mind to be stayed on you. We all want that peace in the midst of this pandemic. I love how Psalm 119:165 puts it, “Great peace, have those who love your law, nothing can make them stumble.” So he will be near he will help calm us he will give us peace in the midst of this. We don’t need to panic and this pandemic like the world is around us. We know the great Peace-Giver.
2. He Will Be A Stronghold
Or another promise, he will be a loyal stronghold for those who trust him.
Psalm 9:9-10. “The Lord is a stronghold in times of trouble for you, oh, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” What a comfort that he never forsakes us. I love that.
Yes, I love that image of a stronghold. When we were in Scotland, we’d often take the kids to visit nearby castles. Those were strongholds. Nothing could get through those strong walls. That’s what the Lord has left to us. When we seek Him, all we have to do is go to him and say, “Father, I’m scared Help me Help my mind to be stayed on you. I’m seeking you. So be my stronghold.” He will be a loyal stronghold for those who trust him.
3. He Will Give Us What We Need
Another promise I love is that he will give us what we need for what we’re facing in this pandemic, whether it be toilet paper, or more faith. He says in Psalm 18:39, “For you equipped me with strength for the battle.” I love that this is a battle, let’s not deny that we’re fighting against sickness and death, which is a result of sin. But the Lord is with us and he will equip us with strength for this battle.
What God Has Taught Heidi In Her Struggle With Anxiety
As many of you know, I struggle with anxiety on and off. This for me, this pandemic has really been a trial because the things that send my anxiety very high are health related and as I just finished my cancer scans, which went well, and I’m thankful for that but that kind of stirred up the anxiety and then the pandemic started. And so I just wanted to share a few things that the Lord has taught me and my struggle with anxiety over the past five years, that maybe will help you all as well.
In times of distress, it helps me to meditate on what God has done in my life and his promises. I love what the Lord frequently reminds us in Leviticus 11:45, “For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.” We see all throughout the Bible, the Lord reminds his people, “I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, tell this to your children, the generations under you.” Yesterday morning, I made my own “For I am the Lord your God” list. And the counselor encouraged me when I had cancer to do this as well. She said Heidi, write down on a post-it note all the promises of God, and all the ways you’ve seen God take care of your family in the past, and put those post-it notes all around your kitchen. And every day when your mind is racing and your heart is overcome with anxiety camp on those and claim those out to God.
So just a few examples from my list.
Examples From Heidi’s “For I Am The Lord Your God” List
- For I am the Lord your God, who loves me and my family with an everlasting love.
- For I am the Lord your God who delivered you safely through your cancer surgery.
- I am the Lord your God who brought you your husband.
- I am the Lord your God who works all things together for good.
And this is my all time favorite one.
- I am the Lord your God who will never leave you nor abandon you.
I think sometimes I need to face my fear head on and what is it I’m afraid to die or I’m afraid my children won’t have their mom those are that’s as this pandemic develops that’s what’s in my heart. And I love that I am the Lord your God who will never leave you nor abandon you. He promises to be our side no matter what comes. He will always be there. Even in the midst of the scariest moments he will be right there. And what a blessing that is.
Thank you for sharing that, Heidi. That’s wonderful.
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Well, we’ve been talking about how we can live as Christians in the midst of this pandemic, and first of all, we said, let’s try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. And then we’ve talked for a few minutes about anxiety and fearing not finding promises that we can cling to. Finally, I would like to encourage each of our listeners to think carefully about the Lord’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. One of the things I’ve had to think through is, I’m 70. I’m in a high risk group. And a lot of friends, neighbors, family members have been emailing me texting me, you know, cautioning me. I don’t feel that caution in myself but one of the ways I can love by my neighbor is by lifting that fear from their heart by not exposing myself. Even if I don’t feel the fear right now, I don’t want to expose myself because of them. Also, it just makes more sense. If they’re asking everyone to hunker down, then I should try to do that because the Bible also says in Romans 12:17, to live honorably, before all. There are neighbors who are watching, do they see me hosting a big party? Because I’m not going to pay attention to the admonitions of my government and doctor? No, that would not be a good witness. So we want as well as trying to discern what is pleasing to the Lord and listening to promises from scripture camping on those when we’re nervous or worried or anxious. We do want to love our neighbor and live honorably before all in meaningful ways.
Find A Promise For Yourself
We want to thank you for listening. today. We pray for you, dear listener, Heidi and I do we ask the Lord to bless you. And we want to encourage you to find a promise from him that can be your promise during this pandemic, that he will see you through you can cling to it and look back on it and see our promise keeping God keeping his promise to you. God bless you.