It’s everywhere right now.
Can you taste it? It’s in the air we breathe, tearing away at the fabric of all we know.
Can you feel it? The entire world is wrapped in a thick blanket of uncertainty.
Our very lives have been flipped upside down overnight in a way that no one has ever seen in this generation.
I see it everywhere. It’s behind face masks that could never hide the look in people’s eyes. It’s in empty grocery store aisles. It’s in shut doors and shut hearts, lonely people looking through tattered windows of fear and pain. It’s the person who just got laid off from their job and now has no income. It’s the exhausted nurse that suits up again to go take care of another infected patient.
There is one driving force that has been dominating this narrative in the past few weeks.
Fear. Questions. Doubt.
Will I get infected? Will my loved ones get infected? When will this disease end? Will things ever go back to “normal?” Will I have enough? Will we be okay? Is this the end?
I work in a hospital. The fear is real, and I am in no way immune to its effects. But I do believe God has given me the gift of peace in the middle of it all. And I believe he wants to give that gift to you too.
I understand the fear, but we as believers are called to live in a higher reality. We are part of a kingdom where peace rules and fear are not allowed to remain – not even a hint, not even a whisper. We are the people of God. We don’t diminish or deny the reality of the current circumstances; we just choose to see above and beyond them.
On one hand, we fully hold the pain, the grief, the turmoil of this time. People are hurting and dying and that reality cannot be denied. But on the other hand, we hold hope; the promise of a future beyond our wildest imaginations and a quiet trust in Jesus who is working all things together in His timing for our good. As believers, we should be the most calm and peaceful people during this time, full of faith, our confidence deeply rooted.
I know, I know…. easier said than done right? I get it. This is where our faith becomes real.
It’s easy to believe these things when life is going well. But it’s in moments like these that our faith is actually built. These are the moments where we grow; where our roots run deep. This is where our faith actually becomes unshakable and we bear fruit that remains. We are called to carry the fruit of peace.
Now, I’m all about the practical. It’s easy to say just trust God and carry peace.
Here’s some things that have helped me be a person of peace. And they are things I’m living out and learning in real time. I believe they will help you navigate this time as well.
Be with Jesus
God is calling us away into deeper intimacy during this time. We are being forced to slow down, kicking and screaming, like it or not. It’s happening. Peace can’t be manufactured on your own. It doesn’t come from trying harder or willing it into existence. It doesn’t come from a belief system or even good theology. Those things are important, but they aren’t enough. True transforming peace comes from spending time in the very presence of God. When we abide in Jesus, his Spirit changes us. You want more peace? Get alone with Jesus and spend time with him. Be aware of Him in all the small moments throughout your day. Invite him into every space with you. You’ll be amazed at the gift of peace he wants to give you.
Refine your Focus
What you look at matters. Where is your gaze fixed? Is it on the news that you’ve checked for the 15th update today? Is it on the stock market that is shaking? Is your focus on conversations of fear and bad reports?
When praying about this time, I felt like God gave me three chapters in Joshua as a correlation to what is going on in our world right now (Joshua 3-6, I won’t go into all of it, but you should go read it and let the Lord speak to your heart). God spoke to me that this time with COVID-19 is similar to the time the Israelites were crossing the Jordan to enter into Canaan and then to face Jericho, their first battle in new territory. When the Israelites were going to cross the Jordan, the Ark of the Covenant went into the waters first.
“Yet there shall be a distance between you and it (referring to the ark)… Do not come near it in order that it may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before.” -Joshua 3:4
The world has never dealt with this before. We’ve never been here. However, as long as we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will be able to move through this time of transition with peace. He is going before us, just like He did for the Israelites into the waters of the Jordan. He is showing us new ways to navigate life in this space and providing new strategies during this time. We just have to keep our eyes fixed on Him.
What does this look like?
It looks like managing our thought life well. It looks like watching the conversations we are engaging in. It looks like paying attention to the media we are consuming. How we manage these aspects of ourselves matters and will have a direct impact on the peace we carry.
Don’t miss the gifts of this time
Whether we see them or not now, God is doing wonders among us.
“Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” -Joshua 3:5
Miracles are happening. Good is being brought out of hardship. People are uniting in ways they haven’t before. It’s easy to see the negative and focus on all the tragedy. However, we live in a different kingdom reality: one that doesn’t diminish or deny the tragedy but chooses to see beyond it to a greater reality of hope and confidence.
In Joshua chapter 5, a new generation of Israelites were circumcised. This represents a cutting away of the old and being consecrated for something new. I feel like God is saying to us that in order to receive something new, something old has to be cut away.
Our whole lives are being stopped right now. Our structures and routines and everything about how we do life is being stripped from us. I believe God is trying to give us a gift of something new. Systems and securities we have depended on are being shaken, which should deepen our dependence on God. Unless you know God is good and are firmly anchored in his goodness, you will miss the gift of this season. We have to be convinced that God is good. This is where our peace lies. He is for us, He is on our side. And He is always looking for ways to give us good gifts. He is making all things new, even in this.
Remember, and give Thanks
After the Israelites cross the Jordan, they participate in their first Passover in new territory. I won’t go into all that Passover represents, but it was a time for the people of God to look back and remember all that God had done for them and how he had delivered them from Egypt. If you want to carry peace, you have to build your confidence by remembering all that the Lord has done for you. Give thanks for all the times in your own personal history he has come through for you. This will remind your soul and calm your anxiety. He has never failed you yet, and he won’t start now.
During this time, the Israelites also took 12 stones from the Jordan and built an altar to always remember what God had done for them. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: what stones are we going to lay during this time of COVID-19? What will the narrative of this time be? We get to write the story as people of God. History will remember this moment. Will we build a monument to the faithfulness and goodness of God? Or will we look back and remember how afraid we were?
How we respond matters and will affect the future and our peace. As people of faith, we have an obligation to write a narrative that points to how good and faithful and true God was during this time. A fearful and panicked world is dying for that very thing.
Look for ways to serve others
It’s very easy to become inwardly focused during this time. However, focusing on how we can serve others will actually increase our peace.
“Now the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan” – Joshua 3:17
We have to stand firm as believers. Just as the priests stood firm in the middle of chaos while the Israelites crossed over on dry ground, we have the opportunity as people who carry the very presence of God to stand in the middle of this crisis firmly rooted in peace and hope. This enables others to “cross over” this time of intensity safely, being pointed to Jesus. We stand in the gap. We don’t avoid the storms or chaos but stand peacefully and firmly still in the middle. By focusing on how we can serve others, our internal peace increases because we are getting our focus off of our own anxiety and placing it on how we can partner with the spirit of God to impact the world around us. It seems counterintuitive, but serve someone else and watch your peace grow.
Change your perspective
After Passover, the Israelites took their first battle: Jericho. This time is refining us all for the next season and battles we will be walking into. How we go through this season will have a direct impact on what happens in our next season. We can view this season as one of lack, insecurity, and turmoil. Or, we can look through a different lens that the Lord is providing us.
We can choose to see that He is wanting to use this time to prepare us for what we will walk into next. We can react in fear and anxiety or respond in faith, deepening our trust and intimacy with God as He gives us new gifts. He is inviting us to make room by them by cutting out old patterns, shining light into the new. Let’s be people that boldly walk forward in confidence during this time. This perspective change will allow you to carry the peace of God in a brand new way.
Friends, death is passing over us like black smoke.
Still, there is hope.
Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that dead things always bring new life. Endings always point towards greater beginnings. This is an opportunity. Embrace it or run, you get to choose. I hope you choose to build your peace during this time. The whole world is dying for it. And you have this gift at your finger tips. Let’s embrace all that God has for us in this season.
“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
Ashley works as a social worker at a hospital in Central Florida. She is an enneagram 9w8 and is passionate all about things social justice, most specifically involving finding missing children/people and ending human trafficking. Ashley enjoys Sunday afternoon naps, true crime podcasts, reruns on Netflix, and authentic conversations. She loves Jesus, her fiancé, her family, and her bed… and she’s not sorry. Follow along with her on Instagram @ashleywithgrace