We are living in the very moment of time where people are panicking over what is presently taking place in their lives, our country and what could take place in the near future. Things have been rapidly changing on a weekly, daily and even hourly basis. People are on edge concerning their work, having enough supplies to make it through the long haul, staying healthy, wondering how long this “social distancing” is going to go on, just to name a few. We have all been faced with times of crisis both personally and in the greater population and we most likely will again at some point and time in the future. From natural disasters to our present pandemic, times like these can send people into a fearful panic that causes them to overreact in response to that panic. So, how can you and I experience a much needed peace in the midst of potential panic? Let me give you five ways to experiencing the P.E.A.C.E. of God when times like these do come our way.
Prepare for the Unknown
Back in 1999 when people were preparing for Y2K, there were those who took it very seriously and over prepared as well as those who didn’t do anything at all. There were also others, like my family and I, who made some preparations just in case things did go sideways. I was an associate pastor at the time and I spoke on the subject of preparing for Y2K. I had no plans to address the subject given the position I was in, but the Lord put on my heart at the time, a passage of Scripture and an opportunity to address the subject.
“Because of the crowd he (Jesus) told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him” (Mark 3:9). There were times when Jesus would get into a boat and teach the people who were on shore because they were “crowding around him” (Luke 5:1-3) and “those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him” (Mark 3:10). In Luke, Jesus saw two boats and got into one of them. In Mark, he told his disciples to get a small boat ready for him. This could be the same event told from two different perspectives or it could be two different events. Regardless, it’s interesting to note that Jesus saw a need arising and had preparations made to meet the need. Even though Mark doesn’t specifically mention whether or not Jesus used the boat, he still made preparations for the possibility – even if we make the assumption that he did use it. In either case, Jesus made preparations for something because he saw the possible need arising for it.
Notice it was a small boat. It wasn’t a large boat. It wasn’t something that would have been overkill for what he needed. He requested a small boat because it would have supplied the need at the time.
There is nothing wrong with being prepared for a crisis. On the contrary, it’s wise to do so. Yet, panic purchasing is not the preparation God would have us take part in. So get what you think that you will need to make it through a season of crisis without becoming a hoarder. Jesus is our ultimate provider and he will supply our every need even if what we have “stocked” isn’t enough. Jesus taught his disciples to pray “give us today our daily bread” (Matt 6:11). In our culture, we are accustomed to have provisions well into the future. We don’t even know what it means to ask God for just today’s provision. Yet, “God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), even if it’s one day at a time.
Evaluate Where Your Hope Lies
Does your hope lie in having enough possessions on hand to make it through a catastrophe? Does your hope lie in having enough supplies to live in isolation for a very long period of time? Or does your hope lie in Jesus who will provide for you where you can’t provide for yourself? Is Jesus your hope for health and provision? People are living in fear right now; fear of the unknown, fear of the future, especially if they are not a follower of Christ. This is an opportunity for us, as Christians, to show others the hope that is in Christ by demonstrating God’s peace in front of them. We can do that in normal conversations as we talk to our neighbor across the yard. We can do that in normal conversations with the cashier at the store. We can do that in normal conversations over the phone. We can do that by offering assistance to others, our supplies to others or our prayers for others.
Our hope needs to lie in God alone, regardless of our present circumstances or suffering. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13). As we put our trust in the Lord, he will fill us with all joy and peace and the result will be that we will overflow with hope. Hope is the byproduct of trust. It all begins with trust. So, move your trust in God to a new level if it isn’t where it needs to be already.
Acknowledge God’s Control Over the Situation
There are preventative measures that we can and should take, but even at our best, we are not in control. We can’t control who gets affected by the virus. We can minimize our chances of getting it, but we can’t control it infecting us if we are exposed to it. We can’t even always control life and death of those who are vulnerable to it. If we did have control then no one would become infected or even die from it.
Acknowledging God’s control over the situation will give you much needed peace knowing that God is going to work out everything according to his purposes. There’s a reason God allows us to go through certain experiences good and bad. If he doesn’t prevent certain things from taking place in our lives, then he has a purpose in it. Yet, through those experiences we still need to acknowledge God’s control in our lives and over our circumstances. Keep in mind, many times God’s control is dependent upon our prayers. He works and moves on behalf of our prayers.
Call Upon the Lord in Prayer
God says, “…call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Ps. 50:15). Prayer is the best medicine for panic. Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you (I Pet. 5:7). Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything 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 minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). These are familiar verses to many, but maybe so familiar that we fail to follow through with them.
God invites us to call upon Him when we are troubled, when we are anxious and he will give us a peace that rises above and beyond our circumstances. It’s a peace that prevails over panic. It’s a peace that comes in times when your circumstances say that you should worry. Call upon the Lord and rest in his peace, recognizing that he is going to work out everything according to his plans for your life.
This is also a time where we need to call upon the Lord in repentance. This is a season where, I believe, God is calling us back to himself. God is using this season to draw our attention away from everything that has consumed our lives, to turn our attention solely upon Him. Much of the resources that we’ve relied upon on a daily basis and activities that have consumed us have been taken away from us. This is a good opportunity to give more attention to our walk with the Lord, to evaluate our priorities, and to seek Him more intimately.
Express Your Trust and Thanksgiving
Express your trust and thanksgiving to God and to others. When you verbalize your trust in the Lord, it solidifies your faith. When you hear with your own ears your expression of your trust in God, it deepens your faith. Faith will take a greater hold on you than your fears when you express your trust and thanksgiving to God and others.
Thank the Lord for supplying your needs. Thank the Lord for taking care of you in this time of turmoil. Thank the Lord for watching over you and your family. Peace will follow your expression of trust in the Lord and your thanksgiving to God.
Let me encourage you during this time of “social distancing” to first of all seek God first and foremost. One thing this should do is drive us closer to Jesus. Secondly, use this time to become closer as a family. This is a time where we are being forced to stay away from others, but it has also forced us to spend more time with our immediate family members who share the same house with us. Our family lives are always so busy with everyone moving in different directions that we’ve lost the art of what time together really looks like. It’s not going to sporting events. It’s not even going to ministry events or church services. If the church is to be made healthy, the family must first be made healthy. It’s as though God is stripping everything else away from us including our normal work schedules and daily activities in order to draw us closer to Him and to reunite the family. If there is contention in your family, now is the time to resolve it. If your marriage is in need of healing, now is the time to move towards healing. If there is a disconnect between you and your child or your parent, now is the time to reconnect.
If you’re reading this and your heart is not right with God, don’t wait another minute living your life apart from God. You need to be at peace with God to experience the peace of God. Call upon Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. Call upon Jesus for your salvation. Make Jesus your hope for this life and the life to come. You can do that by asking him for his forgiveness and inviting Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior. You can select the “Home” tab at the top of this page for a further explanation.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Jesus has already overcome your crisis. Jesus has already overcome your fear. Jesus has already overcome your dire situation. Take heart, his peace will overrule your panic if you follow these five practical steps to experiencing his peace.