This is not one of those hyper-spiritual posts, where I claim that because of Jesus I have peace even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Truth is, that should probably be the case. After all, I’m a pastor, a “one more step and I’m done” PhD student in Christian Heritage at a seminary, a father who has kids relying on me to be calm.
And for the most part, I am holding that together. After all, Jesus does bring peace in the midst of the storms.
It’s just not as automatic as some people will make it out to sound. Especially what some folks will share on social media, where it reads more like a motivational poster than reality. You know motivational posters, right? They’re what you see in the break room at work that mention “synergy” and “integrity” to give you ideals, right before you get back out there to work in the heat and be under pressure to perform well enough to hit a computer-generated goal that completely ignores your humanity.
A substantial portion of Christian social media is faith-based motivational posters, as if posting that “I belong to Jesus, Corona won’t mess with me” will make it happen. Guess what? You’ll still get it if you are exposed to it. The Bible is Scripture, the Word of the Holy God of Creation. It’s not Hermione Granger’s Advanced Health Spellcasting for Muggles.
The truth is, getting to the peace of God in everything takes some daily discipline. It takes choosing every day to filter the news and chaos that is around you through the Word of God.
Oh, and to choose not to live in ignorance. Ignorance isn’t bliss and it isn’t peace. It’s just ignorance. If you’re coming up for air for the first time since March and wondering why people are wearing masks at the Kroger, you’ve chosen ignorance.
That’s where the peace comes in: it is a choice. There are times when the anxieties of everything around you will rise up and you need help. Make the choice to ask for help.
There are times when the chaos around you is overwhelming. Make the choice to walk away from some of it. Make the choice to invest as much time and energy in love your God and your family as you do in seeking out the latest information or gossip.
Because your mental health matters. Too many of us live as if the idea that a person is made up of three different things: a body, a soul, and a spirit, has been proven from either Scripture or science. It hasn’t. Your body affects your soul, your spirit, your mental health. And your mental health affects all the rest. If you are overstressed, your body will react. Your spiritual growth will stumble.
What do you need in this time?
You really need three things:
1. Your own spiritual and physical strength routines: daily time in the Word of God, daily time with good devotional/spiritual and personal growth reading and listening, and some form of daily exercise.
2. Your relational growth routines: you need to be with other people in whatever form you can be. Make phone calls to church members, send emails or texts to unseen friends. Make contact in some form!
3. A weekly effort to encourage someone else. Not to go find someone “in need” exactly—this isn’t about you being better than them—but to recognize everyone is in need of encouragement and finding the opportunity to do that. Maybe this week it’s that kid at the grocery store. Next week it’s the teacher getting ready for school.
Realize that many of the back-to-school events that are meant to encourage and pep-up teachers and students are at best highly modified, and most likely canceled, this year. Encourage.
Because a great way to gain peace in a time of pandemic is to pass it on to others. Not by faking it or carrying your burdens inside so that others don’t see, but by opening up and letting what peace you have pass on to others. You’ll be amazed how it magnifies.