Hope Deferred…

Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Proverbs 13:12

We don’t like to wait. This inclination toward impatience

and aversion toward delayed gratification is evident all

around us. We see it in the grocery store when people

maneuver their way up to the 15 items or less

check-out counter, despite the fact that their cart is

filled beyond the limit. We are reminded , every time

someone runs through a red light that -our toleration for

the tortuous two minute interval before it changes , is too

much for us to bear. We are adverse to waiting for very long. Our world,

especially the American part of it, is conditioned to lose

patience with any delay or postponement of our wants.

Our quick and easy access to stuff by simply clicking,

swiping, texting, and tapping… doesn’t help  in developing much patience.

This is one the most aggravating aspects

of this Covid 19 pandemic reality. We are on lockdown, our sense of normalcy has been upended, a vaccine is months, maybe years away, and we are left to wait and hope for a better day.

The longer this wait continues, the more intractable

the economic and emotional fallout becomes. The rise

in suicides, drug abuse , and domestic violence is an

emerging consequence. While some are seizing the

opportunity to do good things by offering help and

support, the prolonged lack of a resolution may test the

durability of this goodwill. Quarantine fatigue is setting

in. People are compelled to “break out” in defiance of all

reasonable and medically advised restrictions. When this

happens…things will surely get worse before they get

better.Let us all hope and pray that a treatment and

vaccine will come soon.

E.Trice

The Choice to Rejoice

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

   Since the onset of the global pandemic we are now experiencing, there has been an exponential increase of grief in our world. The emergence of  Covid 19 only compounds the already preexisting and perpetual state of universal human suffering and sadness. The graphs and charts to which we are exposed by the media, showing a steady increase in infections and deaths, are but an objective summary of the reality of human despair. The mere numbers often leave us emotionally disconnected from the pain felt in real time… in hospital rooms, nursing homes, mortuaries, unemployment lines, and places where people are scrambling for basic necessities.

      As we navigate our way through our current reality, we can find inspiration in  the words the prophet Habakkuk, who anticipated  his own crisis situation and how he would respond to it. Living in an agrarian culture, largely dependent upon the produce of the land, he describes a looming economic downturn where his  people would experience their own version of a recession. There would be  figs that were not budding; grapes that did not grow; olives that were failing; and fields that produced no food. Also, there would be no sheep or cattle from which to get milk, meat, or wool. Their ancient economy would be devastated. One of the most obvious ways the Coronavirus has adversely affected our nation is its impact on the economy. Just a few weeks ago, America was boasting of having the greatest economic expansion in the last fifty years. Now, thanks to Covid 19, everything has been upended… unemployment is at an all-time high, and millions of people are feeling anxious and uncertain about the livelihood.  

       The prophet was facing a similar kind of instability. What would be his response? How would he positively respond to the negative events in his context?  He would choose to rejoice in the Lord. His ultimate trust and confidence would not be in his own resources, which would include the means by which he would make a living and feed his family.  These things were important ,but they  were not the basis on which his life was built. As a result, if the fields failed to produce food, and the sheep and cattle were gone—God was still the one in whom the prophet found joy.  In the last few weeks, we have all experienced lost on some level. Some have lost jobs. Others have lost their health, and tragically…many have lost their lives. The whole world, to one degree or another –has lost a sense of normalcy. One way to mitigate the impact of such loss is to find something that is constant, dependable, and unchanging. Habakkuk finds God as the ultimate solution. He says with resolute conviction “ …I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  

   Another passage , which gives support to the words of the prophet, reminds us that  “ weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) The impact of this global pandemic  has brought our world  much sadness, grief, and weeping. While there is an ongoing pursuit to find a vaccine to stop the spread of this virus, an important counter to its negative spiritual and emotional impact is– the joy that comes only from knowing God. A song of many years ago reminds us that this joy about which we speak is a joy that “the world cannot give it to us, and the world cannot take it away.”

E. Trice

A Faith Response to the Coronavirus

A Faith Response to the Coronavirus

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God , which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Do not panic

       “Do not be anxious…”  These are words coming from a man who was in a prison. His situation was restricted and uncomfortable. His future was uncertain. Despite his own suffering, he encourages his friends not to get distressed about their situation. To be anxious means to be distressed, uneasy, to have a foreboding sense of fear. Many people have reacted in this way to the growing problem of the Coronavirus. This virus, also known as COVID -19, is characterized my mild symptoms including runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. This illness can be more severe for some people than others, and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. In rare cases,it can be fatal. As of the date of this writing, it has reached pandemic proportions. It has understandably caused some people to be afraid. But there is another option besides fear or dread. It is important to note that not worrying or being afraid is not the same as being concerned. Genuine concern about personal well-being and the safety of others is appropriate and expected. Anxiety or panic is also not the same as being cautious. Some in the church are quick to warn against taking precautionary measures as a lack of faith. To those sometimes well-meaning, but often misguided critics, I would remind them of our everyday habits of locking our doors or activating our alarm systems at night, or washing our hands before we eat. These are normal precautionary measures that we do without much thought, because of the kind of world we live in. These are good habits that do not reflect negatively on our faith in God. Being more intentional about washing our hands, staying home if we are sick, or limiting our physical contact with others, in the wake of Covid-19 are practices of good stewardship. And we can do these things without giving in to worry, fear, or anxiety.  When Jesus instructed his disciples to avoid given in to worry, he stated at least two reasons why this would not be the best response to suffering and uncertainty: 1) Worry adds nothing to your life. (Matthew 6:27); 2) Worry demonstrates a lack of trust in God. (Matthew 6:32). Both are very good reasons not to react to our current circumstances by allowing ourselves to be gripped by an emotional stranglehold that leaves us depleted, and frantic over things over which we have little control.

Be Prayerful

Prayer is the Christian response to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is the first line of defense in every season of suffering and uncertainty. The Apostle Paul, from his prison cell, says to be prayerful “…in every situation.”  Prayer turns us to God. It tunes us into God and His heavenly resources. Prayer helps us to filter and counter those negative messages with which we are bombarded from 24 hour news cycles and Social Media. We are to pray specifically for our needs and those of others. We are to pray for the people who have been infected by the Coronavirus, and those who are uniquely positioned to help find a solution for curing it.  As we pray, we are to express thanksgiving to God, because we know that whatever resources are marshalled, or solutions are found…ultimately they are another expression of His grace. Prayer is not a substitute for work. Prayer is work. It has benefits for the people and situations for which the prayer is offered and for the one from whom the prayer is being offered. An appropriate Christian response to the Coved -19, and any other crises, whether personal or otherwise, is to  “ pray as if everything depended on God, and then work as if everything depended on us.” True Christian prayer leads to action. It also results in peace.

Be Peaceful

   With the discomfort and uncertainty of his external circumstances, the imprisoned Apostle assures his audience that it is possible to live a life free from panic. He instructs them on how to counteract and overcome the tendency to overreact and give in to worry and anxiety. It is the peace of God that comes into the believer’s heart when he or she prays and releases all care to Him. The peace of God stands as a  guard to  block the negative impact of fear, anxiety, and dread—when we feel threaten by internal and external forces that may cause us harm.  Jesus promised this peace: “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives. I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let then be afraid.” (John 14:27).  In many ways, we live in a world that is troubled and full of fear. The Coronavirus has exacerbated the situation. It provides a challenge for us all to either give in to panic and worry, or to look to God who sent His Son so that when troubling things or fearful circumstances come–we might experience peace.

E. Trice

Five Benefits of Prayer

SoulPower

prayer 1

President Trump made an appearance at a church on the Sunday after the recent shooting in Virginia Beach. His spoke persons said the presidential appearance was in response to the tradgedy. The pastor of the church prayed for him , for the nation , and for the families of the victims. Despite the high probability that political motivations were at play, the coverage of the story was a reminder that prayer is important, especially in times of  great loss. As a practicioner of prayer, I offer at least five benefits:

1. Prayer reminds us that we are not alone. When we pray, we are acknowledging the presence of an invisible God who loves us and will never leave us.

2. Prayer releases a sense of calmness and peace within us. While the circumstances around us may be tumultuous, there is an inner tranquility that invades the heart that opens itself…

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Season of Love

Christ came to demonstrate to the world the love of God. He so loved us that He gave his only son. God gave his best to reach out to a world that often disbelieves and makes mockery of his name. He is love and wants each of us to experience His love in a personal way, and share that love with others.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him .” (John 3:16-17)

E. Trice