Some days I feel like I’m walking in circles. My mind jitters from one thing to the next. I stand in the middle of the kitchen with a plate in one hand, forgetting if I was taking it out—or putting it away. Life as we knew it has dissipated. And we are learning to live in a new reality. So, we walk in fumbled steps as we adjust.
And when we stop walking in circles for a moment, we feel our hearts clenched tight. Will we make rent? Will our job re-open? Will we have enough to eat? We are in a global crisis that delivers global anxiety.
As I persevere here, through the haze, I’ve discovered five practices of truth that are helping me persevere. Maybe they will help you too.
1. Focus on today.
One of the biggest challenges in times of uncertainty is thinking about all the “what ifs”. Especially when they seem more like probabilities than just foolish worry. But God does not give us the strength for tomorrow, today. He gives us enough for each day, moment by moment.
Over and over in scripture we read about living with God in the present moment. The Israelites received daily manna (except a double portion for the sabbath)1. God’s presence led them day by day2. Jesus told his followers not to worry about tomorrow, that each day has enough concern3.
What is in front of us today is what we are supposed to do.
What is right in front of you today? Are there worries for tomorrow you need to pray about and then entrust to God? Focus on today and let God take care of tomorrow.
2. Trust that God is at work and is in control.
I do not understand all of God’s ways. But, I do know he is at work to bring all things together for His ultimate good purpose, even when brokenness and a virus seem to plague us with no relent4.
God is at work for the good even when we sit in the perpetual waiting room, praying for our loved ones to be healed and our jobs to resume.
We can look back and see examples of His working when things all seemed lost. When my son was in the hospital, God led people to help provide us food, a place to stay near the hospital, and a specialist to care for him. I can see his hand. But even if we can’t see his hand in our past, we can look to scripture.
In the midst of Pharaoh killing all baby boys, God protected baby Moses and raised him up as a rescuer for God’s people to come out of slavery5. When Joseph was sold as a slave and then falsely accused and sent to jail, God was preparing him to lead the whole region of the world during one of the greatest famines of all recorded history6. Even when Paul was accused, beaten, imprisoned, and ultimately killed as a Christian, God was preparing his writings and life to teach the church for more than 2,000 years until Christ returns7.
God is at work and is in control, even when we can’t see the good he is doing.
Do you need to place your trust that God is at work for ultimate good, even when we cannot see it?
3. Turn your worries into prayers.
I worry a lot. I worry about everything from the floor not being mopped to the salvation of people I know. Physical and spiritual—you name it, I worry about it. Especially now.
I think God gives us hearts that worry because he wants us to have a hearts that pray.
Prayer can be simply turning worries upward instead of inward. One of the best ways to “pray at all times”9 if we tend to worry at all times, is to turn the focus of worry from “me” to “he.”
God invites us to cast all our cares on him, because he cares for us10. Jesus even encouraged his disciples to always pray and not give up8.
We can pray the same thing over and over if we are worried about it. Jesus told us to. He used the example of a persistent widow, knocking on the door of an unjust judge. She kept knocking until she got her answer. So we keep on praying until we get ours.
Sometimes—the result of our prayers may not even be seen in our lifetime, but we pray anyway. Because prayer is like tending seeds. If we cast those prayers, and water them in faith, we can trust they will grow to become what God’s good purpose for them will be.
Can you turn your worried thoughts into praying thoughts?
4. Persevere in the hard work.
Every day requires dependence on God’s strength, but especially during hard times. Stop and listen to your breath. The in and out of oxygen and carbon dioxide is a picture of just how dependent we are on God. We cannot even make our own lungs work without his power.
Whether we are schooling kids unexpectedly at home during a crisis or pulling shifts on three temporary jobs just to pay the rent, hard work is required of all of us.
Sometimes in seasons of stress,
simply getting out of bed
can be hard work.Seana Scott
But God is able to give us the strength for the next thing in front of us. And as we do the next right thing, our character is formed for the better in the hard work. Even if we have to crawl before we walk.
Whatever your hard is, as we persevere the testing of our faith, may we each mature to the point where we lack no good thing in our character and godliness11.
What is one thing that you need God’s help with to persevere in today?
5. Submit to Christ in hard times.
I believe in times of intense stress, God is at work to craft our character and deepen our intimacy with him. But we need to yield to his leadership. And for me (maybe for you too), I need reminded of this often.
Because I like to think I’m in control. I like to make my lists and check them off.
I like to cut through the trees blocking the way I want to go, and forge my own path. But when my arms tire of trying to chop down the obstacles, with no avail, I remember that God is in control.
Friend, there is no other way forward but through submission to Christ.
Every other way is futile in effort and persistence—and honestly? When we try to move in any direction without our hearts and minds submitted to Christ, we are opening ourselves up to the advances of the enemy.
Satan wants us to not trust God and to go at it alone.
The way to resist the enemy is to trust and submit to Christ, even when we want to get a bulldozer and log the path ourselves.
What does submitting to Christ look like?
It looks like following the leading of the Spirit and giving up whatever we are doing to pave our own way.
- Maybe it’s giving up a sin habit we’ve picked up in crisis mode (like hording or eating too much).
- Maybe it’s letting go of the anger we are holding onto.
- Maybe it’s serving the people in our home without grumbling (got me).
Is there anything you are trying to control that is not working out the way you want? What might God be leading you to surrender to him and trust him?
How have you learned to to persevere in hard times?
- Exodus 16
- Exodus 13:21
- Matt. 6:34
- Romans 8:28
- Gen. 37, 39-47
- Luke 18:1-8
- 1 Thes. 5:17-18
- 1 Peter 5:7
- James 1:3-4