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An Exercise In Trusting God In Uncertain Times

I am not sure how to begin a blog post in these times without restating some platitude about uncharted territory or unforeseen circumstances.  Indeed, these are true, but they offer little of the comfort we seek and even less of the stability we crave.  One thing I do know to be true is that God is not surprised by the events of the day.  He never is.

Make no mistake, God did not send the virus as some kind of plague, but he is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere.  He is still our Creator, Father, Redeemer, Comforter, and King.  He is still in control, "and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).  Therefore, we can have confidence that he will be at work in our midst and for our good.  He did not make the virus, but he can use our time of isolation, doubt, anger, concern, etc. to mature our faith if we let him in.  

Romans 8 is full of the one-liner truths that are hitting home for me right now, like the one above.  Another poignant verse is 8:11, “and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”  Essentially, we can trust God with our lives.  That is good news—news of comfort and stability.  

That means we can let go of the control, fear, and anxiety over the outcome.  This will be harder for some than others.  Some of us were already dealing with clinical anxiety or other difficult circumstances.  Some of us have more history with the Lord and can list the times he has proven himself faithful.  Others of us are new to the Lord, or we are young, and this is one of the first major challenges we are facing.  All of us can benefit from trusting the Lord and acknowledging that he is in control.

This exercise of letting go is one I have practiced for years, even with my children.  It has been helpful to us and I hope you find it helpful as well.  I recommend doing the exercise based on no more than one week of time, and maybe every day in a stressful week.
In a journal or on a piece of paper:

1.Write down every concern you have.  
Don’t stop to judge or edit yourself, just take your time and be thorough.  If you are helping a child, try not to react, but do ask clarifying questions so you understand their concern.  You may speak to some of their concerns later, but the heart of this exercise is trusting God, so refrain from too much input before they have completed the steps.  You can best teach trust in the Lord by modeling it.

2.Next, go over the list and circle the things that are your responsibility.  
Jot down a plan or goal next to each; the goal or plan should be something you can do within the day or week.  For example, with regard to the virus, we are responsible for being wise—social distancing, hand washing, etc. are goals.  We are always responsible for doing our best to get along with others, so a plan might be to make an apology.  Many of us still have work and school responsibilities with their corresponding goals.

3.For all the other items, pray and cross them off your list—releasing them to God.  
Give yourself some time for this part of the exercise as you thoughtfully take each one to the Lord in prayer.  Some of the concerns that are beyond us in this season include what happens if I/someone I love gets sick, what is the government is doing, what’s happening in the stock market or with my own job security, and when things will be normal again?  Drawing a line through each as you pray for the people you love and provision you need is a way to acknowledge that God is in control of the things beyond our control.

4.Finally, close your prayer by affirming your trust in God.  
Try something like this: God, you are the giver of life…I trust you with my life…help me to sort out what is my responsibility and what is not…I believe you are by my side as I do what I can, and I give you what is not mine to do…I trust you with every detail of my life.

The apostle Paul attaches a promise to a similar exercise in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Peace—I pray peace for you, my friends, in this and every circumstance.

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