Sunday, November 15, 2020

Stress and Joy

Psalm 119:143. CEB

Stress and strain have caught up with me, but your commandments are my joy!

^This ^  This is exactly right on point today. 

In COVID time, everyone is dealing with stress and strain.  We are all living in an artificial environment, one where physical closeness is discouraged, social events also.  In addition to remembering our keys and wallet when we go out, now we also have to remember our mask.  We have to be careful about where we go and who we spend time with and even how much time we spend with people who are not part of our “bubble.”.   Our usual schedules and routines have been trashed.  People who are accustomed to going out to work every day now sit at home, and may or may not have work to do.  People who are accustomed to having their children go out to school every day now not only have to keep the children home, but have to be their school teachers as well!  We are seeing more and more notices on FaceBook and Twitter from friends who are sick, or whose families are sick, or have lost loved ones.  It is no wonder that depression is running rampant.

“...your commandments are my joy”.  

The one thing that keeps me going is God’s commandment to love.  Love God, love the neighbor, love self.  I try to focus on how (or whether) each thing that I do is loving one or more of those.  Writing blog posts, answering emails and prayer requests, sending cards to friends and church members, studying and preaching are ways I love others.  Writing gratitude lists, doing household tasks, maintaining a routine, cuddling my cats, spending time in prayer and meditation and “attending” worship on YouTube are ways I love myself. And all of these are ways I love God, because demonstrating love for the other and myself are how we love God. 

Mind you, there are plenty of days when I am not very loving of anyone, when I can’t seem to put two words together on paper, or wash the dishes, or find anything to be grateful for, when I am more focused on what is wrong than what is good.  There are even days when I don’t want to get up to feed the Cats.  Those are the days when I lean even more heavily on those commandments, because no matter what I want to at least try to be obedient to God.   My daily morning prayer is a request that God take my will and my life and guide me through the day.  (Also, that the Cat standing on my neck will get off so I can go feed them.)

I have no idea when life will change back to something more like what we were used to in the Before Time.  But until it does, I will keep trying to do as God would have me do - love God and self and others - one day at a time.

Loving God, this is a strange time to be living.  Everything we are accustomed to has been shaken up and moved around and made barely recognizable.  We talk about a “new normal” but that doesn’t even really exist yet because everything keeps changing.  Help us, we pray, to do the things that are demonstrations of our love for you, for our neighbor and for ourselves, that we might come through the other side strengthened by the challenge.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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