Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
This is a dismal verse but Habakkuk still says that even if his circumstances are this bad, God is still worthy of praise.
I challenged myself by re-writing this verse in COVID-19 quarantine style so I could see if I passed the test of rejoicing in trials.
Though the grocery store has no paper towels, toilet paper or hand sanitizer, and Amazon ships no face masks, though our work lives and finances have changed and all celebrations have been cancelled, though my child is doing online schooling and expecting me to know how to help him with Algebra and I haven’t seen or hugged any other children or extended family members for what seems like a year…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Can I say that? Truth is, I have been struggling. Have you? Of course I am joyful in my salvation and the larger spiritual truths, but I am struggling with maintaining a more natural joy as I roll out of bed in the morning. My world feels like it’s shrinking inward. This time in our nation is a personal test to see if we are still able to be a person that rejoices in the Lord and is joyful no matter what.
We will not be spiritually okay without intention.
Without needing the alarm clock to wake me up, without needing to be out the door with my son by 7:30, in the office by 9 and teaching class by 11:00…
I have been surprised at how I have extra time to pray and read my Bible now, but I have used the extra extended time more for screen entertainment than increased Bible reading. Sure, there is room for permitted relaxation, especially at first, but this is getting long now. I feel it. And the problem is, I need Jesus just as much to get through the day even if it doesn’t feel like it in this more relaxed schedule. Without Him, I have no power. Without inviting Him into my daily activities and relationships, I limit His space to get things done in and through me for His glory.
We will not be mentally okay without intention.
Without needing the alarm clock any more, without needing to be out the door with my son by 7:30, in the office by 9 and teaching class by 11:00…
I can just sit in my house and rot at my desk. There is always more grading to be done, new classes to set up, more blogs to post, more teaching and speaking materials to prepare for my job and church. I like sitting at desks, always have, but without intention, I will not spend enough time with my son, plan an outing, go on a walk with a neighbor, or turn the pages of a book instead of scrolling on a phone or typing on my keyboard.
Our spiritual and mental wellness are connected.
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. Philippians 4:8
Setting our minds is a spiritual exercise.
The discipline of keeping a thank you journal is invaluable. I just record bullet points, but I am constantly astounded at how quickly I forget His goodness from one week to the next.
Writing this weekly blog helps me set my mind “on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) It’s a self-imposed discipline. No one makes me do it. But I won’t be surprised if I turn around in heaven one day and this particular discipline saved my life.
Bowing low in the morning and inviting God into my day makes a world of difference. Not kidding. When I do so, my eyes are on the look-out for Him to show up. And He always does.
Such practices keep any of us well both spiritually and mentally well.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-3)
A prayer of praise: Father, we praise you for our current difficulties. With our minds we acknowledge that all trials are an opportunity to test our faith. We want our faith to be proven genuine. Grant us the ability to respond well and let perseverance have its result so we can grow into greater maturity and completeness, not lacking anything we truly need.
Picture Explanation: This boy gets me out of the house every afternoon. We both need it. Nothing like a boy and his bike. This week I made him laugh. Usually it’s the other way around so I will share what I said:
The more people walk around needing haircuts and turning gray as color fades, the more likely hair salons will be considered an essential business.
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