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

A Season of Hope

 

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“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ” Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20-21)

The message of the first coming of Christ is a message of hope. It is a hope for the whole world. He came to save us from our sins. His birth is a reminder to us that God hates sin and wants so much that we not suffer its tragic consequences. Because Christ came into the world, we now have the hope of salvation that He brings. His birth brings hope for new life, new faith, new beginnings, and new destiny.

E. Trice

The Right Time to Say No

 

 

 

say No

Some people have a hard time saying no to others. Often it is because they don’t want to hurt their feelings, or come across as mean. It may be that they have a deep desire to be liked and accepted…and believe that to say no may result in disfavor from a close friend or family member. People pleasing is very common and it often has its roots in early childhood experiences. For instance, a child who never received unconditional love or  approval from a parent, may find themselves going out of their way to give to or agree with someone…for fear that they might scare the other person away. They won’t say no, even when it is appropriate, and necessary. The Scriptures says that we should “let your yes be yes, and your no be no.”So when is it necessary to say no? Below are five reasons to say no to someone you love.

1.We should say no when it is obvious that what the person is asking for is not something they are ready to receive or able to handle. This is often a situation that parents find themselves in with their children. When the child ask for certain privileges or rights that requires more maturity than they can handle, it is in  the child’s best interest for the parent to say no to such a request. Since parents naturally want their children to be happy, it is difficult to say no , even when the reality of the situation indicates that it would be a mistake to give in to the child’s every request.

2. We should say no when we are being asked to do something that goes against our personal convictions or core beliefs. If someone offers us  something that is potentially harmful, like taking drugs or going to what might be considered dangerous spaces…a no response is appropriate. This is especially true when one realizes that to do what goes against our convictions or beliefs is a choice. And no matter how persuasive the other person may be, in the final analysis,  we are responsible for the consequences.

3. We should say no if what we are being asked to do requires over extending ourselves to the point of jeopardizing our health (spiritual, emotional, physical), or operating outside of our natural talents and gifts. When this happens, in the first instance, we will end up less effective in helping others because of our own  unhealthiness. In the second instance, we will be less effective, because our greatest effectiveness in providing service is to do what we do best. This happens when we operate within the realm of our natural gifts and talents, and not based on the demands and expectations of others.

4. We should say no when what we are being ask to do will jeopardize the  health and welfare of someone else. The golden rule reminds us that we are to do to others what we would have them to do to us. This continues to be the best guide to inform how we should respond when we are being pressured or coaxed to do harm to another person to satisfy the wishes of someone with ill intent.

5. We should say no when the timing is not right, with the proviso that we might say yes at a more appropriate date in the future. It has been said that God answers our prayers in three ways.He says no, yes, or wait. If God says wait in response to our request, that means he is saying no, for now. And His response will come in His timing, and when we are better able to receive the thing for which we are praying. So it is okay to say no, while understanding that,  when the timing is right –that no may very well be turned into a yes.

E.Trice