Faith in Times of Uncertainty
May 19, 2020
by Samuel Molind, DMD
COVID-19 has upended our routines, but the spirit-filled life remains as accessible as ever. I am, by God’s grace, optimistic. Ask the people who know me best, and they’d all agree I tend to find the sunniest take on nearly everything, sometimes to the point of annoyance.
Academically, I know all the reassurances I’ve often given people in times like these. I can quote the Psalms and other passages of Scripture to speak of the goodness of God, His sovereignty, His power over creation. Still, fear seems to stand in the doorway of my heart like an uninvited guest, refusing to grant peace an entrance.
On some level, this is a perfectly natural response. A worldwide unstoppable pandemic is the kind of thing humans have feared since the beginning. In the Scriptures, plagues are often a part of God’s package of judgements against heathen nations or ways of chastening His own people. Faithful Bible students today avoid making those direct connections to what is happening now, but plagues are among the most severe kind of natural occurrence. And throughout history, we’ve read where pestilence wipes out entire civilizations. There is a reason we say, “Avoid it like the plague,” about situations we fear. The dread of pandemics is a real and significant fear.
And yet, there is a kind of oral instruction going on—a way of teaching our hearts and minds—that is unhealthy. It’s a teaching of calamity, where the constant input of bad news and negative updates slowly erodes our faith and trust in God. So how do we open our hearts again to faith in a time of uncertainty?
- Back away from bad news. I don’t think we should bury our heads in the sand and ignore the news. We need to be vigilant to keep up with the latest restrictions in our communities and be clear-eyed about decisions we must make as a family and as Christians. And yet, if we were honest, much of our engagement with the news is driven by an inability to tear ourselves away. And unconsciously we may be guiding our souls toward despair, with the constant scrolling and droning of the news. That is not good for us in any moment, but especially in moments of crisis. Our hearts and souls need to breathe, as we were not made for constant negative input. So, if you are like me, you need to release yourself from the burden of having to always be in the know and instead actively choose to rest in the all-knowingness of God.
- Lean into spiritual disciplines. If we are not careful, we’ll waste this time in isolation with constant worry, layering over our hearts with unbelief instead of allowing God’s Word to shape us. We can be disciplined by the news cycle, social media or this crisis, rather than being fed by lasting spiritual food. Reading the Scriptures more is especially helpful in times like this. We often pause over passages in the Bible that speak about God’s power and might, about Him being a refuge and get inspired. These texts really come alive in the midst of crisis. The Word of God is water for a parched, weary, trembling soul.
- Reach out toward community. We may be isolated in our homes, but we don’t have to be isolated from our communities. Technological mediums will never replace what we get from face-to-face, embodied fellowship, and we should never consider separation from friends and the body of Christ the norm. God has graciously allowed us to live in a time of technological advancement, where friends and family are a text, a Zoom or a FaceTime away. What a rich and vital blessing. We have a great opportunity to work on our dearest and most important relationships with greater intention and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
- Rest in new healthy rhythms of work and play. One of the perils of being home every day is how it seems to mess up the routines and rhythms that form so much of our daily lives. The days sort of bleed into each other—weekdays and weekends become indistinguishable. Working from home doesn’t mean working all the time. Crises have a way of convincing us we aren’t allowed to exercise or care for our bodies and we have to remain glued to the grim unfolding drama outside. It’s important, especially during times like this, to find space to rest, relax, exercise, enjoy leisure and, quite simply, breathe.
- Refocus on what we can control. There are things we can control, and there are things we cannot. We can’t control Coronavirus, where it spreads or who gets it or what policies are put into place. What we can control, however, is what God has put before us: following guidelines for social distancing, shepherding our family in faith and doing the work we’ve been called to do. Similarly, we can’t control the economic situation, but we can make wise choices, and we can give toward those in great need. Do not let fear paralyze you. To trust God is to release our burdens and walk in obedience to Him. To be still in places where we are powerless. And to be faithful where He has given us responsibility.
- Fresh grace for the next day. I do not know how long this crisis will last—no one does. I don’t have a clue on when we will be able to get back to “normal,” or what “normal” will mean when all of this is said and done. But I do know what is available to every believer: fresh grace for each day ahead.
I wish I could tell you I practice these exercises of faith every day, but I often fail. I’m surprised at how fragile my soul can be. I do know there is no panic in heaven and my precious Lord, who holds together everything, will neither leave me nor forsake me and I know how much I need Him. But this—even this—is good work for the Spirit in my heart. And in yours.