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Eleven Ways to Be Joyful During This Crisis

by Bob Russell

NOTE: This may be the longest blog I’ve ever written, so please be patient with me. I don’t have anything else to do!

     We’ve not experienced anything quite like the present Coronavirus. It threatens our financial security and tests our spiritual maturity. There are no church services, no March Madness, no school activities, or large get-togethers. We’re staying home most of the time, battling boredom, anxiety, and depression.   The Bible says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  That’s not an easy assignment these days! The following are some suggestions I hope will assist Christ-followers to be joyful despite present circumstances.

  1. Face the worst possible scenario. Some suggest the cure for worry is to put negative thoughts out of your mind. That’s almost impossible. I find it more helpful to face the worst possible consequences, and then realize that with God’s help, I can cope with them. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

     The truth is you may get the Coronavirus. But your chances of recovery are excellent. Plus, you’ve been sick before and survived. The absolute worst-case scenario is you or someone you love could die from the virus. It’s dangerous. The possibility of that happening is much less than if you came to America on the Mayflower, or crossed the plains in a covered wagon, or fought in World War II or lived during the polio epidemic. Our forefathers endured far more menacing times than this.  

     But face reality. Death comes to all, and with God’s help, we will deal with it when the time comes. Yet refuse to let that inevitability rob you of the joy of living today.  “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 KJV).

  1. Reaffirm your faith.  When you get anxious, ask yourself a simple question, “Do I believe what I say I believe?” Do I really believe Jesus’ death on the cross forgives my sin, and His resurrection proves I will live forever with Him? Do I really believe His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me?”  

     If you haven’t believed those Biblical truths, this is the time to repent and believe the gospel. By now, the Lord should have your attention. If you do believe those truths, this is the time to act like it. Repeat His promise every day: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).  Pray every day, “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together.”

  1. Take advantage of the opportunity to slow down…and rest.  Most of us live at a hectic pace. We’ve been too busy and too uptight. An old Indian proverb reads, “You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.” That’s why the Bible encourages us to “Wait on the Lord” and to observe a Sabbath day. Jesus’ ministry lasted just 3 ½ years. Yet he spent the first six weeks alone in the wilderness patiently preparing for His task.  

     Even though I’ve been retired for over a decade, I still get up around 6:00 every morning. There are speaking engagements to prepare for, articles to write, emails to answer, preachers to counsel, and luncheons and retreats to attend. Now almost all my appointments for the next month have been canceled, and I have less to do. The past two mornings, I’ve actually slept in past 8:00 a.m. That’s rare.   But I’m more rested and feel good! This national slowdown may be good for many who hardly ever relax.

  1. Avoid complaining like the plague.Little children on a long trip whine and complain. “I’m bored!” 

     “He keeps sticking his foot on my side.” “How much longer?” Their constant griping gets on their parents’ nerves. The Bible instructs us to “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” (Philippians 2:14 NLT).  Our constant whining must exasperate our Heavenly Father. 

     We all wish things were normal, but they’re not. Deal with it like a mature believer. Complaining doesn’t make you or anyone else feel any better. It only carves your unhappiness deeper into your soul. Keep your distance from complaints…and complainers. They are toxic.

  1. Focus on the positive and count your blessings. The Apostle Paul wrote, “…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).  Every time you catch yourself complaining, stop and list five things you’re thankful for. Do you have a comfortable house to live in? Enough food to eat? People who love you? Eyesight capable of reading? A car capable of getting you to the drugstore? Access to the internet? A church that has an online service? A Savior who died for you? A Bible to read?  

     If so, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

  1. Limit news-watching to fifteen minutes a day. The Times of Israelreported that Professor Jihad Bishara, the Director of the Infectious Disease Unit at Beilinson Hospital, said, “Some steps taken in Israel and abroad were very important, but most people who are infected will recover without even knowing they were sick, the at-risk groups are now known, and the global panic is unnecessary and exaggerated.”

     Some of the unnecessary, exaggerated panic is due to media-hype. Today’s newsrooms are primarily concerned about ratings. Ratings are improved with melodrama and exaggerations. So, turn off cable news and stop the endless scrolling through internet news feeds. Thirty years ago, we got by with fifteen minutes of news a day. That’s enough. Turn it off, follow the CDC guidelines, and go about your business.

  1. Do at least one thing productive each day.  Psychologists tell us a major contributing factor to depression is a feeling of uselessness. If we have no purpose, no sense of accomplishment, it’s easy to fall victim to despair. That’s true. If I do nothing all day, I feel like a giant slug. King Solomon advised us to find satisfaction in work (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

     Yesterday I spent a few minutes reorganizing my sermon file, something I’ve meant to do for years. It wasn’t fun, but I went to bed gratified that I had accomplished something. Do you have closets that need reorganizing, rooms that need painting, or income tax forms to fill out? Do you have rooms in need of decluttering, a Bible study lesson that needs prepared, or a body that’s out of shape? Instead of watching a rerun of a decade-old basketball game, go for a walk or tackle a project and experience a sense of accomplishment. 

  1. Do something to encourage someone else.  You’re not the only one struggling with boredom or depression. Take some food to your elderly neighbors or text a word of encouragement to friends on your call list. Find ways to connect with and uplift others while practicing safe, social distancing methods.  My wife and I invited our next-door neighbor who was recently widowed to have dinner with us.  We ate a simple meal, played a board game, and then prayed together.  We had a good time and all three of us felt uplifted afterward — even though we didn’t hug one another!
  2. Intentionally laugh out loud several times each day.  I’m a big believer in the value of laughter, even if it’s a little bit forced on occasion. Proverbs 17:22 says,“A cheerful heart is good medicine….”There is something healing about laughter.  Two weeks ago, I flew back from a mission trip to Mexico just after the announcement about the Coronavirus. An elderly, talkative woman in the seat across the aisle from me was wearing a mask for protection. She was visiting the restroom when the pilot made an announcement over the intercom. She staggered back down the aisle, and when she got next to me, she bent down to within 6 inches of my face, LOWERED HER MASK, and asked, “What was that announcement about?” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little when she turned to be seated. Look for the humor in your circumstances and laugh out loud…when appropriate.  
  3. Be alert to your influence on your children. The Bible instructs us to teach God’s commandments to our children, “…when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). our children and grandchildren have their antennas up, watching to see whether you respond to the current crises with fear or faith. They are going to remember this period for the rest of their lives. Don’t miss the chance to impact them with your calm assurance that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). 
  4. Remember, this trial is temporary. Hopefully, within a few weeks, we will return to normalcy. It may take much longer to recover, but I doubt it will take as long as the Great Depression, which lasted over a decade.My parents survived the Great Depression and then four years of the horrors and uncertainty of World War II. Now we refer to them as “The Greatest Generation.” 

     Over 100 times, the Bible says, “And it came to pass.”  The current crisis is temporary. In the meantime, let’s allow adversity to bring out the best in us. There may be no better testimony for Christ in tough times than a genuinely cheerful Christian. So, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). 

 

                  Bob Russell is retired minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

.www.bobrussell.org




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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13