Knowing God When Everything Feels Unknown
Just like everyone else, I had different ideas about how I would be spending my 2020.
I’ve spent most of the past 18 months away from my home in Wollongong and was anticipating my return. I was very ready to come home and spend some much-needed time soaking in the company of a group of people I love so much.
But, as everyone knows, things developed quickly with the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. My homesick heart flew into Sydney airport just in time to attend a meeting where we were informed that we would be going immediately into lockdown.
There were no welcome-home hugs. There were no visits to familiar places to feel grounded again. There was no going out for coffee, no sitting on friends’ couches to fill each other in on lost time. Despite being in the same city as so many of my friends, my relationships would continue in the same way they had been while I was away—digitally. Disappointment threatened to creep in and destroy every bit of joy my homecoming carried.
Thrust immediately into a challenging new situation (along with the rest of the world!), I felt numb and swallowed up by the transition. I just had to get through each day and find joy in what I could.
It’s been a strange experience, feeling all that I feel on a personal level and yet knowing that the whole world is feeling that same strangeness too.
So the question has to be: What do I do in a season so full of the unknown? How do I move forward when I feel like I’m drowning in the transition?
I wish I could say I’ve done this well so far, but I’ve really just been fumbling through it. That being said, there are some stand-out steps that have been helpful for me right now. You may find them to be helpful too.
Keep up your time with God
Set aside regular time to pray, read the Bible, and worship, while focusing on how good God is. He is the same good God today as he was before the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Listen to what God might be saying
Just because it can feel like life is on hold right now doesn’t mean this will last forever. God wants to speak and connect with us even in the waiting or the fear. What questions do you have for him right now? Set aside some time to listen to what he might say.
Plug into countless online resources
Everywhere, churches are putting out teaching, devotional programs, video chat small groups and Bible studies. Check out what your church is offering or connect with another church that has resources available.
Now more than ever, it takes an effort to reach out and build community. Find ways you can strengthen relationship. Maybe start an online book club, invite people to play games over the internet, or call a family member more regularly than you normally would.
Ask God for someone new to connect with
Right now there are numerous people who could be slipping through the cracks and need some pursuit. There might be a new relationship you would be really blessed by in the current season. Ask God for a someone new to reach out to for deeper relationship.
If you’re anything like me, seasons of challenge and transition are prime times for old thought patterns and habits to sneak back in. Who can you ask to keep you accountable? Make a regular time to talk and share where you’re at.
Who can you serve right now? Is there a person living alone who could use a call and someone to pray with? Is there an elderly person in the neighbourhood who needs help getting food and supplies from the shop? Ask God for creative ways you can (safely!) be a blessing to those around you.
Watch what you take in
Our minds and thoughts are shaped by what we fill them with. Is what you’re taking in helpful for you in this time? Considering limiting how much you’re reading the news so you don’t get too overwhelmed. Instead, fill your mind with scripture and testimonies of what God is doing around the world.
Let the news fuel your prayers
We need to be aware of what is happening in the world, so it’s important to continue looking at the news in healthy doses. But instead of letting it build fear, bring your concerns to God, and ask him to shape your heart for the nations with his love, and pray from that place of peace.
Pray with others
If you’re finding it difficult not to be overcome by fear, reach out and ask others to partner with you in prayer. Ask for prayer from friends and your church community. Join (or start!) an online prayer group to pray for one another, your community, and the world.
Remember that you don’t have to accomplish everything
It can be easy to get caught up in all the opportunities and things you could use this time for. Instead, ask God what to focus on. And remember that your value is in who you are and not what you do. Remember to rest and just be in the presence of God!
Grieve what’s been lost
Be honest with God about how you’re feeling about these circumstances. Perhaps you’re missing out on a holiday, a wedding, time with family, a new job, or just a much-needed season of normal life. You don’t have to bury those things down, but can freely bring them to God.
Take care of yourself
It seems that upon it being limited, people have really seen the importance of getting outside for exercise and fresh air! What can you do during this time to make sure you’re well taken care of? Remember to get outside for that exercise (if possible), eat well, rest well, and get the connection you need.
With everything feeling quite heavy, don’t forget to find joy in life. Play a game, watch a funny video, dance to your favourite music!
Above all things, no matter what’s happening around us and the uncertainty and fear that can feel overwhelming, remember who God is:
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” -Psalm 46:1-7