Finally, one of my paintings reflects how I can feel throughout these strange and wonderful times through which we are living: PANIC.
In this pandemic, I feel like one of those exposed goldfish, sensing danger was lurking yet knowing nowhere to hide. The virus is going to get me – like the cat eyeing the fish bowl; or, the economy is going to finish me, like the lurking black cat.
We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic. ~ Cullen Hightower
Some days I let panic rule, imagining all kinds of bad things.
But for God’s grace, I would have been the one guilty of hoarding toilet paper . . . but I never imagined a run on TP! So now, I am having conversations with myself I haven’t heard since my mother warned me, “you are using too much toilet paper!”
Although adjusting to the new normal has some upsides. I think about portion control and that is helping me keep our eating plan on target. I am also rethinking if I am really hungry or just bored . . . because what I eat today, I may not be able to replace until . . . who knows when . . . and then I hear panic leaning on the doorbell of my heart.
It’s daily the food I have by God’s grace; not, two weeks of (____________________)!
Accordingly, I know that God is able to meet every need I have in the Lord Jesus – and this horrifying pandemic is a test . . . helping me to see exactly where I have placed my faith. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Throughout these past few weeks of being housebound and keeping my distance from family and friends, I see where I have misplaced my faith a bit. I confess it has been too easy to look to our government, our investments, our healthcare system to save me from something I never saw coming.
Moreover I had been warned about how that looks, when life turns on a dime for a Christian.*
In January, I read a candid confession by an American pastor and missionary in Turkey who was seized and imprisoned for two years because of Turkish political events over which he had no control. (God’s Hostage, by Andrew Brunson with Craig Borlase**)
His life turned on a dime.
Everything Pastor Brunson ever believed about God was shredded in the experience; his faith, however, was not destroyed. His blunt recounting of what he thought, felt, and did during his imprisonment shocked me.
Couldn’t you have put a better face on your responses, Pastor Brunson, I wondered?
Do I think, I would have done better? I can’t even cope if the power goes out for an hour or two.
How would I have coped; being dumped in a Turkish prison, cut off from Doug, and everybody, with no legal remedies, except appealing to God my father whose plans for me are not what I imagined?
After all Jeremiah 29:11is my security blanket:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Then in March, my life turned on a dime; your has, too, right? Immediately, my security blanket has been . . . stretched.
Nouns like disaster, future, and hope have nuances I never appreciated before COVID-19. So too a favorite quote from Uncle Remus takes on a more personal application:
You can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far.
We are not in Turkish jail, like Pastor Brunson was but we are far way from the familiar in this new normal, with no firm date of release.
In a sense, Pastor Brunson’s book prepared me for how out of control my emotions can go in a life-shattering, faith-testing experience, which I had no idea would arrive as it did, when it did.
Pastor Brunson was courageous to recount his failures and while this account was hard to read then, I am grateful he did. Although he knew the scriptures, he battled anxiety – panic — that somehow God messed up, or that he had misunderstood, or failed to please God. I have felt that way! As he came to understand that his was a spiritual battle, I can, too.
What he learned – I can learn: a new lesson about an old truth; that he had to depend on God, and quit worrying about himself, and the unfairness of the ordeal he was suffering.
God writes straight with crooked lines. ~ Spanish proverb
The legitimate concerns that this pandemic generates can quickly morph into fear, and anxiety and panic, just like Pastor Brunson experienced trying to get out of a Turkish jail.
When concern becomes fretting, I project all kinds of scenarios that are unwise for me to rehearse, and I sideline myself from being useful.
Being useful, no matter our age, is a good goal. So, is trusting God for the next step, which I cannot see; believing He intends me good not harm, and accepting I will always have what I need; maybe not what I want.
*There were no violins or warning bells… no sense that my little life was about to change. But we never know, do we? Life turns on a dime. ~Stephen King, 11/22/63 –