In the first month of 2020, the world saw panic over a possible World War III in the Middle East, raging wildfires in Australia that endangered the koala bears, political turmoil in the US, and the beginnings of a global pandemic. Then we had the first cases of the new virus COVID-19 popping up in the States in late January/early February. Then came the hand washing and mask wearing suggestions from government and health officials. Then came social distancing guidelines, cancellations of public events, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and a high unemployment rate. And just when we thought it couldn’t get more chaotic, then came social unrest.
Things this year have been, well, 2020. That is to say, it’s been crazy, and 2020 is now becoming a term for when things go haywire, off the rails, insane beyond all belief, and just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. The real disappointment is that everyone seems to have skipped the panic over murder hornets, which could have been delightfully entertaining during quarantine. But of course, despite discouraging news and events, we have access to the same good news that has existed since the beginning of time: there is a God, His Name is Jesus, He is THE God, and He is in control.
“But, Caitlin, it’s so easy to say that until you’re the one who’s feeling overwhelmed,” you might say.
It’s true that there are many things quite easy for us to say, and when the going gets tough, it gets tougher to truly believe those things. Chaotic conditions tend to throw rational thought into disarray until all that’s left is confusion and madness. Chaos is a state of utter confusion and disorder. Rationality is the state of being rational or being based in accordance with reason and logic. A confused and overwhelmed mind cannot sort together rational thoughts and lean on logic, while a rational mind relies on reason and logic during a time of chaos to separate feeling from fact. Though I tend to be a rational individual, even I often struggle with rationality in the midst of chaos.
Any time I feel overwhelmed, I’m like most people. I let my emotions and irrational thoughts run away with me for a minute while I try to sort through what I’m feeling. It’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when it doesn’t seem that there’s any end to the tunnel at all. That’s when I remove my feelings, set them aside, and separate what I feel from what I know.
Though I may feel worried, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, and even depressed, I remember what I know as fact. God says in His Word that He will never leave nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). Well, of course, my feelings say it’s hard to believe that when I can’t hear an audible voice of God, and I can’t physically see God, and so it’s hard at times to feel like He’s really there. Then, my reason and what I know kicks in. God speaks to us through His Word. In fact, His Word is alive: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). He is His Word (see John 1:1-14), and any time I want to hear from Him and know He’s right here with me, all I have to do is pick up His Word and start reading.
Psalms 119:105 – “The word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”
We’ve heard many a song sing the truth that God knows every circumstance, and nothing catches Him by surprise. He sees all things and is in control in this desperate and trying time. His ways and thoughts are not ours but are higher than ours: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). So, even though I may feel overwhelmed and weary, I know He is right there and is in control of my circumstances and my life. Deuteronomy 31:8 states, “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”
Now, it is a gross understatement to simply say that “life is hard,” but it is perfectly okay and natural to feel sad and frustrated. We’re human, after all. Peter felt overwhelmed by the stormy waves of the sea around him, but God was right there to pull him up even though Peter lost focus for a moment (see Matthew 14:22-31). When Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to threaten his life, he fled into the wilderness and asked God to take his life, for he was “not better than [his] fathers” (see 1 Kings 19:1-8). God instead gave Elijah rest and food to strengthen him. Sometimes, we must allow ourselves time to feel and sort through our emotions, and while doing so, we must rest, study His Word, spend more time in His Presence, and remember that He is omnipresent and omniscient. He’s always there and knows all things.
I may not know everything, but what I know is that God does know it all. So, when everything is 2020 and messed up and seems like it’s falling apart, I can find comfort in knowing that God sees and knows everything that’s going on in my life and the world around me. He’s got the whole wide world in His hands. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me.
Psalm 23 (KJV)
“1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”