For those of us in Bahrain, today we are heading into three weeks of stricter measures in an attempt to curb the spread of a new COVID variant here. For the most part, things were pretty relaxed during 2020 and as a rule we have been encouraged to exercise caution, make wise decisions, and generally be mindful of what we’re doing and where we’re going. For the next three weeks this will need to be more intentional and this might leave you feeling deflated. If you feel like that, it’s ok.
Perhaps you thought that 2021 was going to be a new year and the ghosts of COVID past were just that: in the past. Unfortunately, 2021 is looking like a curious mix of progress and positivity with the same mitigating measures still lingering around.
For most of us, this will all be very frustrating. Questions pop into our minds like;
- Will I be able to travel and attend ____ ?
- How will I manage kids at home whilst also trying to work from home?
- How long is my job and income secure whilst things are not normal?
- How long will this really last?
- Can I even carry on?
Anxieties and stresses and frustrations surely follow announcements of stricter measures and the unknown that they bring. But, as a believer, how should you view the coming weeks and months?
One of the wonderful things about living a life with Jesus at the centre is the eternal perspective it comes with.
When we consider our timeline to be eternal, things that seem like a big deal now will lose a bit of their insurmountable appearance. Sure, you might need to cancel that lunch date next week or that coffee appointment tomorrow, but when we consider these next three weeks against eternity, what is three weeks? No longer do we look at our brief time here as the be-all and end-all of our existence. Our years here are pretty brief anyway, aren’t they? (Psalm 39.5, 90.10, 144.4, James 4.14b, Job 7.7a) Take a longer-term view of yourself. Take an eternal view of yourself.
Having a right and proper perspective on what is happening in our lives right now is so important for our mental health, our emotional health, and most importantly for our spiritual health. What you tell yourself about what is going on is so important. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes about the perspective he has gained through experience.
“I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble.”
(Philippians 4.10-14, NET, emphasis added)
He has learned through experience how to be content in any circumstance…need…abundance…every circumstance…satisfaction…hunger…plenty…nothing…
He writes that the secret to his contentment is the truth that he can do all things through the one who strengthens [him] (v.13). This, despite what your favourite Christian sports star might think, is not a triumphant declaration that being a believer means that you can do anything and everything you so choose. This wonderful statement is actually about Paul’s ability to be content in all circumstances; being rich, being poor, having enough, not having enough, being celebrated, or being stoned. All of these things he can do through the power of Jesus who strengthens him.
For you and for me now, the principle is very applicable.
Whatever is happening around us, for us, or to us, we can still be confident of contentment through the one who strengthens [us]. Taking this perspective on life right now is so important.
Yes, the next three weeks might be more difficult.
Yes, this may well actually last longer than three weeks.
Yes, we may need to change and adapt what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
But, whatever happens, never forget it’s all temporary. All of it.
Never forget that you can, and you will, find contentment and peace despite whatever is going on around you because of the one who strengthens you.
Never lose your eternal perspective on life that comes through Jesus.
Having this settled in your own mind and spirit, make sure those around you are taking this view too (…you did well to share with me in my trouble). Take the time now, right now, to reach out to just one person in our church family and make sure they’re taking this perspective too.
“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me”