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Open Fear, Open Trust


Congratulations! Many of you are now at the final weekday of your quarantine! I know that for many of you that it hasn't been an easy week. Some of you have had to homeschool your kids. I know that the school districts are diligently working to get their classes online, but with limited to no technology in some homes, this is still difficult for many. Many moms and dads are now stepping up to the plate and trying to teach their kids. I have seen more than one post supporting a pay increase for teachers. I was on board for that idea before the quarantine, but even more so now!

This quarantine is likely going to last much longer than just this week. I know that some were surprised and maybe even disappointed to see that we had cancelled services for three weeks. At this point, it actually looks like our leadership was a bit ahead of the curve and I commend them for thinking ahead wisely. Governor Abbott has strongly encouraged no more meetings that exceed 9 people in the entire state of Texas and all restaurants have been forced to shut down their dine-in services. The state of California believes that in 8 weeks, more than half of the state's population will be infected with coronavirus. It appears as though things are almost certainly going to get worse before they get better.

It is in times like this that we are experiencing a variety of negative emotions. You might have fear of you or someone you love catching this virus. You might be anxious about your business or the businesses of others being forced to shut down during this time. You might have anger that you cannot carry out your normal routine. You might be frustrated that you cannot get any work done. You might feel depressed that you can't go out and interact with all of the people you're usually around. You might simply be sick of watching so many movies and tv shows.

I want to ensure you that these emotions are natural for such an unnatural time in our world. Fear sets in when the unknown is fully present and this unknown appears to be here to stay for some time. With all of this being said, I want to encourage all of you to do something to the best of your ability: admit and embrace these emotions. Now I'm not claiming that you need to be fearful and hold onto this fear. I am asking you to admit your negative feelings openly to God. Admit that this fear, doubt, and worry are separating you from Him and ask Him to take these feelings Himself.

I love looking at the example of David when thinking about how to navigate emotions and seasons of life before God. When we think of the Psalms, we usually think of the passages of praise and worship. The psalms are where many of our worship songs come from (Psalm 95, Psalm 98, Psalm 100, Psalm 103 to name a few). However, what a lot of people don't realize is that the majority of the psalms are about David complaining to God.

David is described as a man "after God's own heart," (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), something that I'd like to think all of Christ's followers strive to be. While we know that David was far from being a perfect person, he was highly favored by God and yet he has plenty of psalms where he cries out and complains to God. Consider the opening of Psalm 13:
"How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
And day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

These are pretty heavy words for David to cry out to God and Psalm 13 isn't an outlier. Read the first two psalms to get an idea of the direction that David went with these feelings. I grew up in a church culture where making this kind of cry would be unimaginable and definitely unacceptable. When you consider David's story though, you might notice that he spent the majority of the first half of his life running from his predecessor, King Saul, who was trying to kill him despite the fact that David had done NOTHING wrong. In fact, David had opportunities to take Saul's life on more than one occasion and make himself king, but chose not to. David only served the king. This meant that David spent a lot of his life on the run, in the desert, and mostly alone. It appears that this carried on for about 20 years. 20 YEARS! While this quarantine thing is giving us cabin fever, at least we are in the comfort of our own homes. David didn't have a home to hide in. He was constantly moving around. When you think about this, it makes sense as to why he cried out to God as often as he did.

Now while these feelings are valid, let's skip to the end of Psalm 13 to look at how David says he will navigate his feelings of depravity toward God in verses 5-6:
"But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise,
For He has been good to me."

Incredible! Though David is in misery running for his life, he tells God that through all of these feelings that God has been good to Him and that he still trusts in Him. If you look at other psalms where David complains, look at the end of the psalm and you'll find some similar words.

When you feel like you are overwhelmed by this quarantine (and based off of the projections, that feeling will likely set in at least to some degree at some point) think about what the man after God's own heart did and what this calls for you to do as well. Be open and honest in where you're at with God, but also reassure yourself and God that your ultimate trust is in Him. For His plans are good.

We're going to get through this. It will strengthen us. We will celebrate when this is all over and we're able to come back together. We're still here for you. We're still praying for you and we're here to help if you need anything. May God watch over all of us as our time away from one another carries on.

"Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." -1 Peter 5:7

--Casey Lankford