Devotional 3/16/2020

The last few days have been hard.  One because we are in the first pandemic that I have really been aware of in my life and I admit I find that...stressful.  However, my 'vacation' did not go anything like planned.  My husband went to Puerto Rico last Wednesday for a vacation that went horribly awry (more about that tomorrow) and the girls and I headed up to North Jackson to be with my parents.  And that went okay, until Amanda threw up all over me on Friday morning.  By Saturday Amanda seemed better but Belle was not and I was not feeling great either.  So we left my parents and came home just in case it got worse.  I did not want to be away from the girls' doctor if they had something worse than the normal stomach bug. 

And we had not been home more than 30 minutes, than Belle got sick all over our living room (good thing the carpets already going whenever we go and I might just burn the couch).  I was feeling pretty bad myself and I was engaging in a fair amount of self pity and maybe a little wallowing.  

But then in the coming hours I was reminded how much I had to be grateful for.  First, my husband cut his trip short and flew home arriving here at 2AM on Sunday to take over so I could sleep.  Second, a trustee who happened to be at my house when we arrived and so knew we were sick, brought me 7-up and Sprite on Sunday so we did not have to go out.  Third, through it all I had a friend in our community who offered me dinner, to go the airport if needed and more.  I did not take her up on any but it was wonderful to have the offers.  And so on and so on.  

Right now we are in a hard spot here in this country and around the world.  Covid-19 is unlike anything we have seen before in our lives.  Yet, and I do not say this tritely or with dismissal of the suffering, we do each have so much to be grateful for.  I have been thinking the last few days often of Paul.  Paul often shares is sufferings in the letters recorded in scripture.  And while his suffering is different in cause (religious vs illness), it is suffering all the same.  Yet through all of it Paul shares what he rejoices in.  In Philippians, Paul shares that he is writing prison which is only one of his hardships over his life.  But the letter mostly focuses on his joy, the gospel of Christ, and his love of his brothers and sisters in Christ.  And these are all things that we can also focus on in these hard times.  

I am like Paul in few ways but like Paul, I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in everyone of my prayers for all of you (Philippians 1:3).  And I rejoice that no matter what we can count on God's love and presence and each other.  God does not promise us that we won't have hardships, quite the opposite in fact.  But God does promise to be with us through all of it.  And as the body of Christ, we can also rely on each other in times of hardship.  Even on the bad days, we can rejoice that we have God and one another.  

I invite all of you to read Philippians chapter 1 and 4.  Notice how much Paul speaks of joy and rejoicing (what the heck- count them even!).  Notice that his joy is not in things or an easy life which he is denied but in God and people.  And I invite you to take the time to make a list, write it out if you can stand it, of all the things you have to have joy in right now and all the people who are a blessing to you.  I hope each of you start the list with God and go from there.  Writing out the list will let you see those things again and again in the coming days. And they do not all have to be serious or big things- on my list I literally put Oreos, nap time, and Barney (a joy I thought I would never have).  Anything that you can rejoice in.  Then I invite you to take the time to pray for others in your community who you rejoice for them and their lives.  If you are struggling where to start, think of who sits close to you on Sunday morning and start with them.  Pray for their peace, joy, health, and that they may feel Christ's presence.  Spend at least 10 minutes between the reading of scripture, making your list and praying.  Make time for God and share with God not just your concerns but all that you do have to rejoice for.  And if you are able, take the time later today to call one of the people you rejoice for just to say hi and how are you.  


With Love and Pray,