Whether you’re struggling with the fear and isolation of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or you’re just having one of those weeks where nothing seems to go right, relying on faith can help carry you through.
I took some time to reflect on how my faith guides me during my life so I could offer some guidance to you.
1. Maintain your faith at all times
I really don’t separate good times or hard times from my faith. I am blessed to have my life penetrated with the gift of faith and I have striven to have my relationship with Jesus (God) be as authentic a relationship as I would have with a physical person.
I have scheduled prayer and worship as a part of my day. I pray God will soften my heart during those times and make me attentive so that it is not “work” or “routine,” but true worship that I offer. In this, I desire to come to know and understand His love in my life and what He is asking of me.
I also practice The Daily Examen, which is essential to be able to reflect on my day, my emotions, my interactions and my responses all in the light of Christ and what He is calling me to.
2. Find practices that bring you peace
I often go to the Passion of Christ sections of the Bible (Mark 14-15, Matthew 26-27, Luke 22-23 and John 18-19) because I find my challenges can be best united to His. I ask for His wisdom to look at the situations I am in with His eyes and to be able to walk with His Heart.
I use the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, which follows the walk of Jesus to Calvary. This has made my reflections and prayers come more alive because my body walks from Station to Station and my focus becomes engaged in His, carrying our sins, our wounds, our pain to an ultimate redemption.
I also rest in the Psalms, which seem to hold within them all the varied emotions I feel when going through difficult times.
I keep the structure of prayer and worship intact, which creates a backbone and consistent support to my day.
Finally, I rely on Confession. When I get grumpy and negative, I can confess this before God and publicly before a priest for forgiveness and strength to move on.
3. Lay your struggles before God
During hard times, I bring my true emotions, the conversations I have with others, including their concerns, into my prayer. I lay them at the feet of Jesus, to whom I have grown in trust and confidence. It is His wisdom and love that gives me confidence and hope, even when my emotions struggle.
Struggling is normal and I would say in many ways essential to growing in faith. If we can’t go before God in truth than we are not in a right relationship with Him. I think we should bring every emotion, fear, doubt and concern to Him.
If you are in a relationship with someone and a lack of trust has come into that relationship, it is important for that relationship that the doubts are openly talked about. It is the same with my relationship with God.
I need to be able to say to God, “I am doubting you. I am angry at you. I am feeling torn apart. Help me!” I think saying out loud how we feel to God allows Him to respond back in our heart and through others and there can be spiritual peace.
4. Rely on your support systems
If I am not internally able to share my struggles with God, I find a close friend to share my heart with, someone who cares enough to listen – not necessarily to do something.
I think it is important that we accept and understand that we are created for community, for relationship. We need love, support, kindness, hope and confidence to gain strength to deal with the challenges of life, and we find that in and through our relationships.
If that is not possible, resources like OSF SilverCloud are out there to help us take the pain we have on the inside and pull it outside of us. This helps us better understand ourselves, take better control of the situation we are in and gain balance and perspective on things.
5. Find the good
Also remember to have a heart of gratitude and find some good in your day, to claim it as good and to tell someone of that good.
We need laughter. Read a funny book, watch a truly funny movie.
Remember that God is bigger than COVID-19, He is bigger than a bad week and this time on earth will be very short compared to the gift of Heaven.