Thursday, April 16

by Beth Anne Clayton

When I first signed up to write a devo, I was excited. What a great opportunity, I thought. I will have so much free time to do the writing I have always planned to do, I thought.  First of all I have not had all the free time people keep talking about. I think most of my day is spent in the kitchen! But also, now that it is my turn, it seems I just can’t get the words to come together. I wanted to share something thoughtful, profound and helpful but I also don’t want to leave the impression that this pandemic hasn’t thrown my anxiety into overdrive or exposed the cracks in what I pridefully thought was a solid faith.  There have been so many thought patterns over the last several weeks and roller coasters of emotions. One day I’m excited to see God’s plan unfold. I mean this isn’t my first bat at uncertainty and God always comes through in ways I could have never imagined. Then the next moment I am ready to pull the cover over my head and sleep until it is over, because the disappointment and fear is just too hard to bare. I fear that life won’t ever return to normal and then I fear that it will. I savor the sweet time of worship at home sharing communion with my little family, but then cry buckets longing to be singing with my church.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude on Easter for the resurrection, but at the same time feel deep sadness for the celebratory meal of just 4. I lie awake at night with worry over all the things, but yet I feel this peace knowing my hope is in Jesus. I have had to continually recenter on God’s sovereignty and  surrender my will to His. To say my brain feels like it might explode is an understatement, and I may or may not be driving Jarred just a little crazy.

So I decided to share something I wrote the week that life began to suddenly change and we really didn’t have a grasp yet on how much. It was the week we found out there would be no Makin’ Music and most likely our table wouldn’t be surrounded by college students again until the fall. I have gone back and read it often to remind myself of the strength and peace I felt that day as I surrendered myself to God’s will in all of this. Because this is the truth that we must hold on to, as cliche’ as we have made it - God’s got this, He really does have a great plan, He is in control and what Satan intended for evil, God will turn into good through His people.
Here are my thoughts from March 19:

I stayed away from all forms of media yesterday. Jon Acuff posted this, “There’s a thin line between “informed” and “obsessed.” It’s different for each person, but when you find the constant stream of Coronavirus information fueling your fear instead of equipping you with facts, take a short break.” This is what was happening to me. So I’m taking a break. A break from all the opinions, the numbers, the political post, the gloom and doom, the disappointments, the beautifully written posts on how we should react as Christians, the countless educational resources and Pinterest projects I should be doing with my kids, etc, etc. and it is unbelievable the clarity I have received back in just one day.

On Tuesday I was angry and sad and overwhelmed. I yelled at my kids... a lot. I cried. I didn’t want to think about the good that God was creating from all this. I just wanted to pout about the unfairness of it all. I felt selfish and petty for feeling that way. I mean hadn’t I just spent the last year and a half studying suffering and disappointment. But perhaps the biggest part of my fear and anxiety comes from the place in my soul that this whole crisis is forcing me to face. The one that wants to hang on to my comfortable life with a death grip. That the god I may really trust is the comforts of life we have turned into necessities. I think about the class I recently taught where I urged my Christian sisters of  the importance of showing our children how to suffer well. That in our suffering is where they will see God....but they won’t see God in the comfort or if life never brings them disappointment. And if we never suffer, then we can’t show them how to suffer. Tuesday I wanted to believe that surely there was another way. Christ begged his father for another way but in Heb 5:8 it says “ although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered....” So peace in all this comes from surrendering it all to our Father and saying, Thy will be done.”
What’s funny is that I have been praying for over a year that God help me simplify my life, so I had more white space for the most important things. Maybe stripping our lives of all the “good” things so we can rebuild with the most important things as the foundation was the only way.
I know without a doubt God is doing amazing work in all of our hearts. Work that if life had kept on as normal, would have never happened. Do I think God caused this crisis -NO! Do I believe He can use it to do great things for His kingdom - YES! Just imagine how strong our children will be knowing they saw God deliver us all through this.  Not guaranteeing that tomorrow I won’t be reaching for the covers again and needing to once again stop the spiraling in my brain with more truth, but today I am excited and joyful thinking about the possibilities and opportunities God has in store for his church.
To finish I want to leave you with a verse that I have read over and over for the last 6 months and it has brought me so much comfort. Psalms 107:23-32 but especially versus 28-30 that reads “Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; He got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down and He led you safely back to harbor.” “He got you out in the nick of time…” I just love that.

- Beth Anne Clayton

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