Verse of the Day

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."

~Isaiah 26:3

Today's Devotional Thought

March 20, 2020 by Rachel Piferi


Steady My Soul

Hello Friends! So, I woke up this morning and within a few moments knew that I would be writing to you all today. You see, I have been wrestling something out over the last couple of days and around mid-morning today, I realized that if I was wrestling this out that maybe some of you are also. And while we may be socially distant right now, we really are only physically distant. We can still be socially connected and physically distant. And, I think we need to figure out how to do that well or we are all going to go crazy ("going to go" you say? I know some of us have already had moments of going crazy). goes....some of my thoughts today as we are physically separated, but socially very much together in this. {And, I apologize now for the length of this...I'm a little wordy on a good day, but now I have nothing but time!}

I, like many of you, am a bit stunned at where we find ourselves today. When I look back just one week, we were in full school, sports, and church activities. We had Bible study last week and a youth group meeting about our summer mission trip. Late last week, I spent a day of fun and shopping with not a care in the world of public exposure. And today, we find ourselves in a world that is vastly different. A world that we simply have not lived in before.

And, I have to be honest, I have not quite settled into what life is supposed to look like right now. I've struggled to get my routine on or to keep my outlook upbeat. I can honestly say that I'm not fearful. But I am undone. And, it bothered me that I was a little off-kilter when for the most part, we are fine. My husband and I both work from home anyways and we are enjoying family time together. It's been warm so I can go outside and walk. And, I actually have some free time to do things like clean out closets and write on my blog.

So, why does my soul feel restless?

I have a feeling that I am not alone. As I read people's comments on Facebook or listen to interviews on television, I think we all are feeling a little restless in our souls. And as I reflected on it over the last couple of days, that is when it hit me. Why we may feel a little undone.

You see, we just don't quite know how to do this yet. We don't know how exactly to stay socially distant from each other but still connected. We don't know how to stay at home alone but not feel lonely. We don't know how to prepare for an extended period of time at home but not overreact and hoard toilet paper and hot dog rolls. We don't know how to plan for graduations or summer vacations or even if those are happening. We don't know how to have faith that God's got this when some of us are getting laid off or our small businesses are suffering.

A week ago things looked drastically different. And now, we don't even know what tomorrow holds.

Much has changed. And it has changed quickly.

And we don't know what this new (albeit temporary) life should look like.

Can I share some thoughts I've had? Some places I had to get to for my own soul? Some truths I know to be true as both a Bible study teacher and a psychologist about what life should look like now, in this period of uncertainty that we find ourselves in? Here are five things I believe are essential to thriving (not just surviving) in this period we find ourselves in (and truth be told, five things that are essential to thriving in all seasons of life).

1. (Productively) Own what you are feeling.
We have had a major interruption in our lives this week. And the interruption does not appear to be resolving soon. Our workplaces, our kids' schooling (both K-12 and universities), our churches, our restaurants, our sports, our economy, and countless other things that are important parts of our lives have seen disruption, change, and loss. Some individuals are losing their lives. Others are experiencing loss of jobs or income. Weddings, graduations, and other important events have been changed or postponed. And, it is okay to feel sad about it. It is okay to not know how this is supposed to go now. It's okay to admit that I am not feeling real sure of what my future holds or how this looks now. We need to be positive and have hope, yes. But, that does not mean we deny or stuff the negative emotions we are feeling. We need to learn how to acknowledge and process them in productive ways or we'll just get stuck. We'll feel hopeless, and in our current state of social distance, very alone.

So, what do you do?

Call a trusted friend. She likely has time to talk. And share what you are feeling. Share that you don't feel steady. But, as you share, also share the truths from God's Word that you know to be true. And remember to share these things with God in prayer throughout your day too. We can learn a lot from David in the Psalms. In so many instances, he shares with God what he is feeling and then he says, "BUT, God is....." Call on Jesus today and call a friend today. Share your heart. Own your feelings. Then spend time talking about how mighty God is and how capable He is to handle all you are feeling.

2. Stop Meditating on the news.
As everything was changing (and changing fast) in our world over the last week, it was very tempting to have the news on 24-7 and to constantly be scrolling Facebook for everything from stories about Italy to updates from the kids' schools. But, I found pretty quickly this week, that doing that drains my soul. The news is important, but it is repetitive and tends to ruminate on things. We know from God's Word and from science that what you focus on will dominate your thoughts and mood. And if we ruminate on the bad, we'll stay stuck in the bad. I believe we need to know it, but we need to meditate on something else. There is a difference between being informed and being engrossed. I have stopped watching the news all day long. Instead, I have set times I watch it and I have set times to go on Facebook to get updates from friends, family, and groups I am a part of. And my soul can tell.

3. Make worship a steady part of your day.
Philippians 4:4-9 tells us to:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I'm sure many of you are like me and you have more time to be still than you typically do. That can be a gift or that can be a curse depending on how you use it. Use it to worship. Instead of scrolling Facebook or watching the news all day long, spend time worshipping. Listen to music. Sing while you are getting ready. Fill your mind with God and His power and might and sovereignty over all things. In a world so full of uncertainty, it is critical that we focus on what we know to be certain. Our minds will be tempted to wander a lot in this period of unrest. So fix them squarely on Jesus.

4. Set your alarm. Make your bed. Read your Bible.
When social distancing was first mandated and all sorts of activities were cancelled, it kind of felt like a snow day. And if I am being honest, I settled into snow day behavior. Ate some snacks. Stayed up late. Watched movies. Slept in. Repeat. But as the week went on, I realized that snow day behavior is not sustaining. It may be fine as southerners get snow (for a day or two), but it will deplete your soul pretty quickly as a lifestyle. And the unique thing about what we are living through right now is that we are going to have to develop a good, productive lifestyle for this period. It will be a temporary period, but it will be long enough to have to be productive and have it's own routine. So, my advice: Set your alarm. Get up and make your bed. Read your Bible. And live a disciplined day and not a play day. Research shows that productivity and even completing small tasks like making your bed will improve your mood. God is a God of order and we have been created to live in order. So, when your day is in disorder, you'll feel it. So, make your bed. Keep your routine. Read your Bible. Your soul will thank you for it.

5. Stay connected with each other.
One of the hardest parts of social distancing is not knowing how to stay physically separated from one another and still feel socially connected. Social connection is a basic human need. We were created for connection with God and with each other. And much of why we are in unrest right now is because we are not able to connect with one another as we typically do. And we feel a little lonely.

We need to find ways to connect with each other.

And, friends, I do not mean Facebook. I think after living with Facebook for 10+ years, we all know that connections on Facebook are not fully satisfying. I won't bore you with all that we know about social media from psychological research, but trust me when I say you wouldn't be surprised at what psychologists say about it. I think you know it in your spirits already. Nothing substitutes for real live connection. Nothing is as good as sitting across a table at a coffee shop, looking into someone's eyes, hearing their tone of voice, and talking about life. Nothing is as connecting as a live conversation that starts, "How are you in the deep corners of your heart?" Now, we can't sit across from someone right now at a coffee shop, but we do have some amazing technologies that come close.

Call a friend. If you both have Facetime, then Facetime a friend. Make a cup of coffee. Sit at your table and let her sit at hers. And talk. Old school style. No texting. No Facebook Messenger. No memes. Just good old fashion conversation. Tone of voice. Tears. It will do your soul good and I think we won't feel so socially distant if we made it a part of our days.

Friends, if you are feeling a little undone in life right now, please know you are not alone. We've never gone this way before and it is natural to feel a little confused over how life is supposed to look right now. But friends, God has given us so much wisdom in His Word. And while we may have been taken off guard by how life has gone in the last week, God is not surprised. He knew this was going to happen and He knows how this ends. And as undoing as it may feel right now, I have learned in my life that uncertain situations are fertile soil for our faith to grow. The wonderful thing about God is that He is rock steady when we are not. He is always available. Always compassionate. Always grace-filled. And always knows the right thing to say and how to calm our troubled souls.

We just have to seek Him.

So, if I may, can I add a 6th thought to how to re-steady ourselves as we continue to walk this road we're traveling together? Take a walk with God today. Let Him calm your soul. Keep your eyes fixed on Him and remind yourself of the larger plan. And run your race. Life as we know it may be interrupted right now, but this is going to be a very small piece of your story when it is all said and done. Life will return to normal, but prayerfully we will not just return to normal. Instead may we press into this season and commit to grow in it and become better in it. And know God more in it. May this time of uncertainty be the fertile soil from which we grow to look more like Jesus.

Abide in Him friends. He'll get you through. And you will see the victory.

Memorize this verse today:

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
~Isaiah 26:3

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