There was a time in my life where things were really tough. When I say “tough,” I mean sold-the-stove-right-out-of-my-home tough. (Maybe one day, I’ll tell you the whole story.) Well, it was during those times that I learned a lot of lessons…hard lessons…deep lessons…important lessons. Those lessons made me who I am today…a little bit stronger…a lot a bit older…and a little bit wiser.
During this new “Age of Corona,” a lot of old feelings and old lessons started popping up inside me. The funny thing is…this time…it’s with 20/20 vision. You know the saying…”When you look backwards, you always have 20/20 vision.” A few weeks ago, when the news stations first started to bombard the world with images of people wearing masks spraying the streets of Italy, I got a feeling. Call it intuition…call it experience…call it PTSD. Who knows which one it really is? Truly only time will tell. I just had this feeling I couldn’t shake that things were going to get tough around here. And now…well…they have.
Friends and family members all around me have just been laid off. Many more have had to take pay cuts to keep the jobs they have. And the rest…well, let’s just say, they’ll be working harder than ever. Every family is going to feel the effects of COVID-19, whether big or small. Our family is no exception. (My husband is in the auto industry, and that industry is ALWAYS SEVERELY IMPACTED by economic recessions.)
So how do we cope? What do we say to our children? Do we say nothing at all and try to shelter them from the storm?
I’ve always been one of those people that “lived out loud” with my kids…partly because I would have gone crazy had I not. You see, there were times where my girls were ALL I HAD. They were 2 and 4-year-olds when the rug was pulled out from under me. I lost everything in a day–much like Job in the Bible. It was a swift and dramatic fall to say the least. I definitely lost my bearings, and I got hurt BAD when I hit the bottom.
And yet…every time I opened my eyes…there were the girls…their sweet, innocent eyes always on me…reading me like a book. They were little learning robots like that Disney movie “The Incredibles.” They studied my face to read my emotions. They studied my actions to learn how to be a grown-up. THEY COPIED EVERYTHING! Everything I did…everything I was…every emotion I felt. I WAS CONTAGIOUS…even MORE CONTAGIOUS THAN THE CORONAVIRUS! So this time…13 1/2 years later…I’m prepared. I’m doing things differently.
I sat all my kids down last week and had a heart-to-heart. You see, kids are smart. They can sense things. There “ain’t no sense hiding.” You might as well face it. I think sometimes it’s better for everybody that way. You know…facing your problems instead of running from them…facing your fears instead of repressing them…facing things together instead of alone.
I told them all about the Coronavirus. I told them all about my fears and my instincts…about its potential serious impact on our economy and even more specifically…on our FAMILY. I answered great questions about what I felt the worst case scenario could be for people we loved…for ourselves. Then I told them to open their Bibles to Matthew 6. This was a passage that really got me through my toughest times and darkest days. It was a passage that I had heard time and time again as a little girl growing up in a Christian home and a Christian school. It leads up to one of the most famous Bible verses I know, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV) Here’s the whole passage:
I wrote it below in NIV, but if you click the link…you can read it in the Bible version of your choice.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“
My kids perked up when they got to verse 34, and they gave me that look. You know the look…the one that says something just clicked for them. You see, they had heard me say A MILLION TIMES, “Don’t worry about tomorrow; it has enough trouble of its own.” They just thought it was something I say, a Rachel-ism. I don’t even think they knew it was a Bible verse. There are actually TONS of verses like that…famous sayings that we hear millions of Americans say that we HAVE NO IDEA THEY CAME FROM THE BIBLE.
I proceeded to break each verse apart for them and asked the kids good questions…leading questions…open-ended questions. We had a great discussion about King Solomon and how he was the king in the Bible that God granted one wish, just like Genie from the movie “Aladdin.” We talked about the flowers in my garden…about how beautiful they are…and how they bring us so much joy…even if it’s just for a season. We talked about how the flowers are the most beautiful things in the world, and how they DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to manufacture their beauty…it just comes from within…from God, the giver of life and all good gifts. We talked about the birds of the air and how they don’t sow seeds and harvest like a farmer to get their food and yet…they have all that they need.
Then I shared with them that ONLY ONE THING can live in your heart…either FAITH…or FEAR. I told them that FAITH and FEAR lead us down very different paths. Different mind-sets. Different actions. Different emotions. I told them that one of the most important lessons I had learned when their daddy was gone for 3 years was to walk by faith and not by sight! I took them to Matthew 14, just a few short passages later and introduced them to some of the greatest miracles ever performed by Jesus…and to the real context of Peter walking on the water. You see, I always love re-reading those stories I heard as a little girl in Sunday School…I just read them DIFFERENTLY. I TELL THEM DIFFERENTLY to my kids. I now read the context. I read the chapters leading into them. ‘Cause if I’ve learned anything in my own Bible studies, it’s that sometimes…you catch a whole new meaning when you put yourself in their sandals. IT’S TRULY AMAZING! That’s when the Bible really comes to life.
We talked about how God knows what we need. After all, HE KNOWS EVERYTHING!! He’s omniscient! He knows our past, our scars, our fears. He knows our future, our trials, our purifying flames. He never sends us into the fire without preparing us in advance…or walking beside us. Just like the Old Testament characters Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Our trials have been chosen for us…and us for our trials. 1 Thessalonians 3 tells us just that. It says that OUR TRIALS ARE OUR DESTINY! It says in verse v. 2-3 that Christian brothers sometimes get sent our way “to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.”
Maybe that’s ME. Maybe I’M the Christian friend God is sending your way to help you through your trials. MAYBE THAT’S WHY I faced so many trials…to prepare me for this day. Who knows? God’s ways are mysterious indeed.
Well, no matter what the reason…I AM HERE. Here behind my computer typing out my thoughts…living out my purpose. Doing what God has asked me to do.
I love you. God loves you.
We ARE going to make it through this….YOU are going to make it through this.