I am experiencing an intense love/hate relationship with cooking right now. I oscillate between the blissful, therapeutic, rhythmic chopping of fresh vegetables and stirring of pots and saucepans, to absolute dread and anguish at the mere thought of planning and preparing one more meal.
I’m reminded of my mixed emotions the time a young Johnathan approached the dinner table and exclaimed, “Hey guys! I like all of you. But I do not like that chicken.” I didn’t know if I should laugh, cry, or scold him. I’m feeling a similar mix of emotions on a daily basis now, courtesy of quarantine.
If you are a hot mess of all the feelings these days like I am, maybe you can find some comfort, as I do, in the following thoughts:
First, this too shall pass. We’ve all heard it and we all know it, but while we remain in isolation as the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, it can’t hurt to remind ourselves that this won’t last forever (unlike laundry … and cooking). History can teach us a great deal about cycles and seasons, if we bother to look. Difficult times – truly bad ones, even – will in fact arrive. But don’t forget, good times will return.
Second, we are not abandoned nor alone. We will face trials, but we will never face them on our own. God is always with us. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. Jesus is always standing in the gap. Like Daniel in the lions’ den, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, God is very present in our times of trouble.
Third, we can do more than just survive during suffering. We can thrive. I know it seems hard when everyday feels like a struggle, but I promise this is possible. Think about when you start an exercise routine. Man, it’s so hard. You struggle to complete the first few workouts. Your muscles are screaming at you. But you know good stuff is happening inside your body, even if you can’t see it yet. The same can be true for our spiritual lives. Just because we can’t see or understand what God is up to, doesn’t mean He isn’t at work within us and others. In fact, God does His best work in us when we are at our weakest. That’s because when the false veil of self-sufficiency is yanked back, and our false sense of security is stripped away, we realize our very real, very deep need for God, and for a savior. When we turn and seek Him in the midst of suffering, He reveals new depths of comfort, understanding, and love, and we can experience new aspects of His character that lead us to a greater trust in Him.
Fourth, we can find peace in the knowledge that nothing happening in our world today is a surprise to our Heavenly Father. It may surprise the heck out of us, but God sees all and knows all. He has a plan for everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. Our circumstances never shock Him.
Though the ground beneath us may feel like shifting sand, we ourselves can choose to stand firm, because we serve a God that neither moves nor changes. In all circumstances, with our gaze fixed on Him, we can choose gratitude, kindness, and connection. We can choose faith and trust in our steadfast God.