There's a lot of fear in the world at the moment. Fear, panic, paranoia. I think the fear is worse than the virus itself. Fear feeds off itself, growing ever bigger and more overwhelming. It makes normally sane people do some really stupid things.
For the past couple of months, I've done pretty well ignoring it all, convinced that the whole Coronovirus thing was blown out of proportion and that if I just kept doing what I'd normally do, everything would be fine.
Until I couldn't.
Events were cancelled. Church culled. I couldn't do my groceries online like I usually do. The medications I'd ordered hadn't come in when they were supposed to. It wasn't just something out there anymore which I could ignore.
And suddenly, yesterday afternoon, the fear hit me. I closed myself in my room, tears dripping down my face and finally admitted to myself that I was scared. Really scared. What if this was bigger than I'd given it credit for? What if people I knew and loved got sick? What if I did? What if I was making a bad decision in letting my kids still go to school? What if I couldn't get my medications when I needed them? What if....???
In desperation, I pulled out my Bible. I didn't want to be afraid. I didn't want to let the fear overwhelm me, and the only way I was going to get past it was to find something bigger. As I sat there, reading the Psalms, God reminded me of something I'd not only known my whole life but believed so strongly, it had bled out into my characters' lives as I wrote:
All will be well.
A promise. Not only for my characters but for me. For us all.
Not that sickness won't touch me or my family. Not that life would settle down and go straight back to normal. Not that this coming year wouldn't be tough or that it would all pass straight by me without affecting me or my family.
No. A promise that even in all that, God would still be God. That God would hold us all. That because of him, no matter what, all would be well.
I don't know where you are today - whether you're out in the world or in some form of quarantine, whether you're fighting fear or clinging tight to faith, whether you're living day by day or looking ahead to the year to come - but I do know this: God is still God. He's still in control. He's got you. He's got me. He's holding us all just as tightly and lovingly as ever. And because of that, all will be well.
Am I still fighting back fear? Yep. Every day. But I'm not fighting it alone. I'm choosing to believe all will be well.
I’m one of those people who loves the start of a new year. Not because of the fireworks or holidays or any of that but because of the idea of a fresh start. Forget what’s happened, leave behind the regrets, leave behind the pain and those things that have held me back and start anew. There’s such beauty and freedom in a fresh start – even if it’s only in my head.
That didn’t exactly happen this year. The thought of asking God for a word for the year or setting goals or even just thinking about something new was one thing too many on an already overwhelming list. Instead of being excited about a new year, I kind of staggered into it – exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, and grieving alongside so many Australians as we helplessly watch our country burn.
Even reading my Bible seemed a bit much. Not that I didn’t want to, just that I couldn’t handle another person or verse telling me I needed to do something. Care more. Love more. Pray more. Be more hospitable.
I just didn’t have any more.
So, I opened my Bible to Psalms. Psalm 23, to be exact. The first psalm I ever memorized in full as a three- or four-year-old. The one I could say without even thinking. The one with no chance of having hidden words or meanings in there anymore because, seriously, after thirty years of holding on to it, hearing it preached on, reading about it in books, seeing framed on walls, wouldn’t I have found them all?
I love how wrong I was.
Over the first week of 2020, I read that psalm, over and over again. Just one psalm. And in it, I found comfort. Because in that psalm, I found not only a shepherd, but so many different names for God – every one of which I could spend the rest of 2020 delving into the depth of.
And in those, I’ve been reminded that yes, I might be overwhelmed, but I don’t face any of this life alone. When I’m exhausted, he offers me a place to catch my breath. When I’m afraid, he walks beside me. When it’s all too much, and I don’t even know what to pray, he fights for me. When I feel like this pain will never end, he reminds me that there’s hope and what I see now won’t last forever. There’s a place for me at his table. His arms are waiting for me to crawl into, even if all I do is sit there and cry.
So, as a new year and all its highs and lows begin, let me pass it on to you:
When you’re exhausted, God offers you a place to catch your breath. When you’re afraid, he walks beside you, your guide, protector and companion. When it’s all too much, and you don’t even know what to pray, he fights for you. When you feel like this pain will never end, he reminds you that there’s hope and what you see now won’t last forever. There’s a place for you at his table. His arms are waiting for you to crawl into, whether it’s to excitedly spill about all the thrilling things happening in your life or simply sit there and cry. Because you know why?