Perseverance in a Pandemic

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Episode Synopsis

Heidi and Jani share some ways they are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with renewed hope in God’s promises for His children.

Audio Transcript

Hello, everyone. It is so good to be with you today. Heidi Howerton is here with my wonderful

Jani Ortlund!

And we are honored to spend some of this time together with you. As you might be able to tell Jenny and I are recording separately again. Our town has issued a shelter in place mandate, and we want to be respectful of that and we both felt that it would be better to continue working virtually over these next few weeks as our country grapples with this pandemic that we’re currently going through.

Prayer and Thanks

Yes, we hope that you’ve had a chance to listen to our last two episodes, where we talked about some of the fears and challenges we’re facing during this COVID-19 crisis. Heidi and I are aware that our listeners are facing a variety of difficulties. Some of you are facing unemployment. Your biggest worry is how you’re going to buy food and pay the rent. Others of you are struggling with all the schooling that’s been brought to your doorstep because of your children. Maybe you have quite a bit of email coming in from different schools of things that you’re expected to do. Some of you are facing the virus right in the face squarely. You have family members, or you’ve been isolated yourself and quarantined for two weeks. We don’t know but God knows the circumstance you’re facing. We want to speak into those but we can’t speak into every specific one. So we are asking that the Lord will restore your soul according to your need, which only He can do.

We also just want to take a moment whether you are at the grocery store working or whether you are a nurse or a doctor, or whether you are a firefighter or your husband is a pilot and has to keep going to work for anybody that is considered in those essential categories where you’re going to work in every day, how grateful we are for your strength and your courage, and how we will continue to pray for you these next weeks and months. We are so so grateful for the work that you are doing. It is significant, and it means so much.

Yes. Oh, yes. Heidi, you know that in particular being a nurse yourself, although you’re not practicing right now.

Yes, it hits home. I remember, I’m home right now, as a stay at home mom, I haven’t worked in the hospital for about seven years but it’s a heavy burden to know. I remember families being together during snowstorms, and all different things that we used to face in the past. And I would still have to go to work every day. And there’s such a weight. You want to take care of your patients and you also want to be there for your family members. And it’s heavy. I’m sure it’s heavy on their hearts right now.

Yes, yes. So we want you to know that we’re reaching out virtually through this medium of a podcast. And Heidi, could I ask you just to open us with prayer right now before we begin what we’ve want to say?

Yes, God, we thank you that you are sovereign, and you are God of the universe. We praise you that you are still on your throne, we exalt your name. Oh Lord, I pray that you would deliver our country and our world from this evil pandemic that is taking over. God, I pray that you would draw near to each and every one of your children, whatever they’re facing in life on this day, may they feel you bend down from heaven, God, and be right next to them. Thank You that you promised to be near us and you promise to save us. Lord, I pray that you would spread your protection over all of us. And I pray especially for those ones that are on that are going into work, God be near to them, strengthen them, keep them healthy. Oh Father, we love you. And I just pray that you would do a work in all of our hearts and even in people that don’t know you yet God, may you turn the world to see you. We are man and you are God. Lord, exalt your name in the midst of this pandemic. In Jesus name. Amen.

Amen. Amen. Thank you, Heidi. Yes. Oh my well, we wonder if you have had a chance to listen to our last two episodes. Maybe some of you moms with young children at home had a chance to try some of our suggestions. How we know the days are long. We’re hearing from some of you about how long they are and how you love them and yet you have some conflict in your own heart over the impatience that rises up over the boredom and that your kids express, over the guilt that you feel sometimes of not being the kind of mom you want to be in this situation. I wonder if, if you’ve tried some of our suggestions. I wonder if maybe you had a puppet show, or maybe you tried making some playdough. Heidi and I put that recipe for you on our website at Maybe you’ve tried making an indoor obstacle course. I was on the phone a few days ago with a young mother who’s a friend of mine, and she said she was afraid of the chaos that this would create if she had an indoor obstacle course. So I encouraged her to just keep trying to control the chaos, there will be chaos. These are chaotic days for all of us. But there are ways that you can control it. For instance, I said, go ahead and build your obstacle course. But make one of the rules be, you can only use your feet, you can’t use your arms at all, you can’t touch anything with your hands or arms, or you’ll have to come out of the course, you could set pillows on the floor and have the children jump over them. You could have them climb the stairs without using the handrail and then jump down one stair at a time. They could run in place and count to 20. And then try doing it again using one arm with the other hand masking taped to your tummy or holding your shirt. There are ways you can do this where your living room and dining room and bedroom won’t become chaotic.

Now, some of you might be thinking, as we mentioned, puppet shows and playdough and indoor obstacle courses as Heidi and I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, you might be thinking, Jani, you have no idea you don’t understand me. I’m trying to work from home and it’s impossible to get my work done. I can’t hire a nanny. I can’t respond to all these emails from the kids schools. I’m having problems making sure they do their homework, their schoolwork and to cook for everyone to keep the house scrubbed down these counters, even keeping them disinfected, or the doorknobs much less the bathrooms. I feel like I might be going crazy.

Another mother I spoke to this week admitted she was really struggling with her own work. And now having three kids back at home full time, each from a different school. It was impossible for her to keep up with everything. And on top of that her kids were really fighting a lot and she just was getting so discouraged with it. Heidi, how are you doing with three kids at home and your work for Renewal Ministries and there on the farm, I know you have work to do as well. How are things going for you in this pandemic?

Oh, that’s a great question, Jani. I feel like for me, it’s really changing week to week. Last week, I was really struggling as we talked about my anxiety was rearing. I mean, some days I felt like all I could do was sit on the couch and I was consumed with the news. And I was having just a hard time being present with my kids. And the house was getting messier. I felt paralyzed in my soul. And the only thing I knew how to do was I reached out to a handful of friends and just said I’m really struggling. My faith is struggling. Can you pray for me I needed somebody to stand in the gap for me. And I’m so thankful to say that this week, those prayers of those dear friends who stood in the gap, the Lord answered them, and this week is going better. I felt like he bent down and helped my parched soul.

So last week, I just kind of felt like we were surviving the kids were watching more TV I found a educational game that they could play on the computer together. And that some weeks it is about survival. What can I do? And to those moms that are in survival mode, I just speak grace over you. It is okay for your kids to watch a few more movies as you try to get your feet underneath you again. And as you get your feet underneath you again I just pray that then the Lord would help you move from surviving to thriving. So this week we’re doing well. Mike is home this week, working from home and we’re just trying to establish a routine we’re aiming for one to two hours of schoolwork with the kids a day. I aiming to get the kids exercising once a day. So if it’s sunny, we’re going outside and taking a walk as a family and exercising. If it’s raining we’ve been using YouTube videos once a day for 30 minutes to get these kids moving and I say, “Oh, you can have an Oreo” and RM has been going well, but it is so little. Last week, I was very overwhelmed. How am I supposed to do my work with the kids at home? And in some ways work was demanding in different ways. And it’s been before because we’ve been trying to think outside the box on a few things. So I just try to think what resources do I have? I can get up early in the morning before the kids wake up. I can put a movie on and know, okay, I’ll have an hour and a half to really focus on work here. And even Mike, I’ve just been honest with him about my struggle, and how can we be teammates in this? When can I watch the kids for you to get work done? And okay, could you give me an hour where you watch the kids and I try to focus on it here and try to use our resources for our benefit instead of fighting against each other and being overwhelmed and not communicating about it. Communication is the best. Even to be honest with my kids and say, “Mom has to do an hour of work. If you can let me focus on this one hour, and not interrupt me, then for the next hour or two hours, I promise I won’t bring my work out, I can be focused on you.” If I’m trying to do the work while being like entertaining the kids, it gets to be too much. But if I say, “Okay, I’m going to focus for an hour here. And then let’s play for an hour really intentionally together”. That’s helped. So it’s week by week, we’ll see what I’m saying next week.

Yes, yeah we’re all finding that, aren’t we? Because we’re in a different routine. I might say for our listeners, Heidi and I have a code word for Renewal Ministries, we call it RM. And so you might hear a slip into that at times on our podcast, but that really does stand for Renewal Ministries. Heidi is a wonderful employee with us here at Renewal Ministries. And while we don’t want this podcast just to be another episode of practical tips to help you through, we want to offer them as we’re able to. And we do want to try to encourage you as Heidi has been doing in her young family to try to work out a routine for your days, so that you and your family will get up each day knowing what to expect. That really helps if you can plan that out the night before. Each day might look a little different. You might have to replan it sometimes according to what’s going on. But do try to have a plan. What do you want to accomplish during these weeks of isolation? Think it through. Where do you want to be at the end of it? A question that I’m asking myself is how can I thrive in this and not just limp along and survive? We want to be thrivers in Jesus.

What Do We Want To Remember From COVID-19?

Another question Heidi and I are asking ourselves is this? What memories do we want to carry with us of our life during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020? What memories Do you want to build for yourself, for your marriage, for your family, for your neighborhood? Heidi and I wonder if you’ve chosen a promise from God’s word as we encouraged you to? Are you memorizing it with your family or your roommate? I love how Charles Spurgeon said,

“Is it wretched to walk in the midst of trouble? No, it is blessed walking, for there is a special promise for it. Give me a promise and what is the trouble?”

Charles Spurgeon

I think that’s true. If we can see the promises of God fulfilled in our life during this hard time, it will be worth it.

Promises To Help Us Through These Hard Days

And so Heidi and I thought we might take a few minutes in this podcast and share oh we have three or four promises that have been helping us during these hard days. We’ll give you the scriptures will read them, comment on them a little bit and then they also will be posted on our website.

The Promise of God’s Guidance

One that has really been helping me as Isaiah 42:16 it talks about how God guides us. It says this,

“and I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know. In paths that they have not known, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light and the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do and I do not forsake them.”

Isaiah 42:16

Oh, I love this promise. I love how it shows us that God is guiding us. He’s leading us. He’s shining light into your and my dark place and he’s smoothing over those rough paths that he’s asking us to walk right now. We cannot see into the future, but he’s already there. And he promises not to forsake us. This is the God we can look to when we’re overwhelmed or afraid, or just plain worn out.

The Promise of God’s Purpose

Or how about Psalm 138:7-8? This talks about his loving purpose. Heidi, would you read those for us? Psalm 138:7-8?

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand preserves me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

There is no enemy, be it a virus, or financial loss, or emotional distress, that God does not have power over. Our lives are in his hands. Psalm 139:16 teaches us that every day of our lives were formed by him and written down in his book before even one of them came to be. He has written even today out for you. He knew you’d be listening to this promise right now. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you, and for Heidi, and for me. We can count on him, because he’s a promise keeper.

The Promise of God’s Closeness

Jani, I wanted to share the verse that I’ve been meditating on, the promise. And it’s this Psalm 34:18,

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Last week, I just felt so brokenhearted and crushed. I felt scared, and anxious. I felt like I didn’t even have enough faith to walk through this crisis. I was pleading for Jesus to be near and I didn’t feel him near. And I asked him for a verse and I felt like he gave me that one and I’m so thankful for it. So whenever that anxiety would rush over me and that fear, I just said, “God, you promise to be close to the brokenhearted and you promise to save the Christian spirit. I am brokenhearted and I am crushed in spirit right now but I am claiming your promise that you are near and you will save me.”

And so I just repeated that throughout the day. Whenever I would feel brokenhearted or crushed in spirit, God, you are near and you will save me. And even in the past few days, he’s been so faithful to be near and to save me. I love the old hymn, Jani, that says, “When I feel my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast.” Sometimes we don’t even have enough faith to make it through suffering, but Christ is the one that holds us fast. Nothing but Christ do we have. What a gift Jesus is?

Yes. Can you believe he’s awakened our hearts to know that to accept him? Oh, we thank you, Lord.

The Promise of God’s Protection

Well, let’s bring this episode to a close with some more promises from Psalm 91, promises of his protection. Heidi and I love the imagery in these verses. Let me read some of them to you from Psalm 91:1-6.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his pinions. And under his wings, you will find refuge. You will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Oh my! That language the terror of the night sometimes is we’re going to sleep we are terrorized by the pandemic.

Or the pestilence that stalks in the darkness.

Yes, we can’t see it. It’s an invisible enemy. As we’ve said before, that little tiny microbe that comes and makes us very sick. But we do not need to fear it because God is protecting us. There is no place safer than to be near to God. What a covering he gives us! Not the covering of hand washing and disinfectant and social distancing much as we must engage in those practices. We ought to. Please do wash your hands. Please do disinfect your countertops. Please do practice social distancing. But God covers us with even more safety. He covers us with himself. I love how the psalmist speaks of his shadow, his wings, you know, to be under the wings of someone is to be very close to their heart. You can hardly get closer, snuggling right in close to his heart. Nothing can come at us when we are covered in this way.

I love that image, Jani. One time we were at a conference a few months ago, and you were talking to the women about that image about the mother hen and the little chicks that run around. And when the big hawk comes over, even when they just see it shadow, how the mother hen opens her wings wide and the chicks come and they run in and they seek shelter and she holds them so close to her heart. What a comfort to imagine myself as a little helpless chick and that the Lord opens up wide his arms and holds me close to his heart.

Yes, yes, nothing can touch us without it coming through God’s protective circle and he sees it’s best for us. So we can trust him as long as we’re close to him. Heidi and I pray that God would restore your soul as you go deeper into his guidance and his loving purpose for you and his protection over you during this pandemic. We love you. We pray for you. May God bless and protect you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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