This blog written “live” in the chemo chair this morning. The delta strain of covid has arrived in Brisbane. For those of us with suppressed immunity, it’s potentially our worst nightmare. For others, the whole covid thing is a conspiracy and a ploy by Big Pharma and governments to gain control of us all. Regardless of where you sit on this issue, the reality is that we are living in very difficult times. Fear is rampant on both sides of the fence.
Living with suppressed immunity in the middle of chemotherapy treatment while a highly infectious strain of co-vid has broken out in your city is stressful. I know I’m not alone in admitting to that stress. There are many thousands of people right now all over the world in the same vulnerable situation. They include two friends also undergoing chemo treatment and a family from my workplace whose little boy has leaukemia. I also have vulnerable friends with chronic health issues. The only “political” statement I’m going to make is “Love thy neighbour as thyself”. It’s not hard to wear a mask. Masks are not full-proof, but they do help stop the spread of any virus and thus help protect the vulnerable.
As a Christian I recognise that fear and stress is not God’s will for me, yet at the moment it can feel like playing russian roulette every time my essential worker family members leave the house or I need to go for treatment. But I can’t be ruled by fear. Fear is a fierce weapon that the enemy of our souls uses to keep us reaching to control what is always beyond our grasp. Co-vid is definitely beyond our control. I know that if the enemy can get my peace he can get my heart. For my own well-being I deliberately keep from watching the news too much. I scroll past divisive, political, or co-vid facebook posts. They’re usually based on speculation, spun news, skewed statistics, and unverified sources. I figure if it’s not something uplifting or encouraging then it’s not worth reading. If you sense your peace being stripped away I encourage you to put some healthy boundaries in place as well.
One of my favourite authors, Ann Voskamp, says “Peace is not a state we attain, it’s a person we run to.” How true! One of God’s Names is “Jehovah Shalom”. That literally means God is Peace. Jesus Himself said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). Knowing Jesus is knowing peace. So what does running to Him practically look like?
It’s putting boundaries in place as I mentioned before. Guarding my ears and eyes from too much bad news. I’m not sticking my head in the sand, but simply being aware of how much I can tolerate before it steals my peace. Sometimes ignorance is bliss! Media is not the only peace-stealer. It could be a person. That one you know who can never talk about anything without being full of negativity or criticism. Or maybe it’s comparison. Comparing ourselves to others is a sure-fire way to lose the peace that comes from being content with what we have or who we are. What are your peace-stealers?
Once peace-stealers are recognised in my world then it’s a matter of me deliberately turning to God’s Word and reading His promises. But not just reading… listening. Reflecting. Applying. Allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. Abiding.
Psalm 91 is one of my favourite psalms at the moment. Many Christians like to claim the promises in this psalm and apply it to co-vid because the psalmist writes about God’s protection in the midst of pestilence and plagues. But the key verse is actually the very first one- “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
To dwell means to live in. To occupy. To abide means to have company with, to accept or act in accordance with. So the protection and promises of this Psalm are dependent upon me living each day in the company of Jesus. It’s all about relationship! Peace is a person- Jesus!
There’s plenty of opportunity for fear to attack during this pandemic. But there’s also plenty of opportunity to turn to Jesus and find peace in Him.