As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And these have been and are continuing to be desperate times. The Coronavirus and Covid-19 safety measures, plus the civil unrest, have been politicized, conspiracized, and yes, even religicized, (not a word, but it sounded like it should be). But I won’t go there – plenty has been posted online, looking at these issues from every possible angle.
I started writing this blog post around the beginning of the stay-at-home recommendations or orders for Ohioans. The director at my part-time job decided that we should work from home (even though there are only two of us in the office), so I packed up the laptop, auxiliary keyboard, extra-large computer screen, put a stack of files in a box and headed home on the afternoon of March 23. Since most of my work is done on the computer, I thought working at home would be a piece of cake.
While my husband’s workplace deemed themselves “essential,” they decided with his health risks that he should take advantage of the federal government’s CARES-Act. This meant he would get paid through his employer for two weeks, and they sent him home on April 3. Then when things started to look bleaker concerning the Coronavirus and Covid-19, they recommended that he not come back to work until things settled down. Little did we know that he wouldn’t return to work until May 26, the day after Memorial Day. I didn’t go back to the office until June 1st.
I give you this bit of background to set the stage for what seemed to be a never-ending pall over me and our household. I’m still not quite sure what it was. A “funk” or “malaise” or something settled around us and try as I might, none of my “desperate measures," things that have worked for me in the past, seemed to be doing any good at all.
Yes, first of all, I kept praying, but it seemed like there were no answers coming back to me from God. I didn’t doubt that He heard me, but it seemed like there was some kind of disconnect happening. And I couldn’t figure out where and what that was. I prayed, walked and prayed, prayed and slept, prayed with others at our online prayer meetings and Zoom church, and prayed warfare prayers, but it felt as if nothing was happening to alieve the situation and it felt like God wasn’t speaking to me.
I tried reading my Bible more, read devotional materials, signed up for online Bible studies (only completed one or two), watched live streaming events from respected Christian leaders and musicians, but something was still missing. I could not get motivated to do anything aside from the basic things to keep the house running, my husband and pets fed, putting in my hours for work, and staying connected to the church through Zoom worship services and prayer meetings. And then all those people posting on Facebook about the projects they were doing - from home repairs and renovation, to learning to do something new (language, playing an instrument), crafting, baking, cleaning everything, etc. And I was getting more and more - I wasn't sure - out of sync, depressed maybe? That plus the fact, that here I was, getting discouraged when I was supposed to be the one encouraging others, as part of my ministry.
I virtually attended several live stream events put on by Dr. Terry Wardle at Healing Care Ministries. He felt led to address the things that people were feeling during “quarantine” and I was greatly encouraged by his ministry. The first one in late March really spoke to my soul. It was loosely titled, “Trusting God in Difficult Times - Learning to Take Our Faith for a Walk.” Due to copyright issues, I cannot delve much deeper into his insightful gleanings that he shared with the registered participants, but he said something that I had been mulling over throughout my stay-at-home period. And I fully intended to write this blog post about what he said and how it applies to our/my prayer life. (That may come in a later post.)
“Desperation is the soil that most nurtures [fervent] prayer.”
Well, I was desperate, but I wasn’t feeling that it was nurturing anything, least of all my prayer life.
As I stated above, I thought I was doing the things that should position me to hear from God. I was getting little tidbits that were inspiring, but they didn’t last long. Then there were three things within the last month or so that seemed to turn things around for me. One was from the guest speaker at the online Memorial Holiness Camp; he gave a series of talks around the topic of “Together,” being together with God. He spoke about the incident between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, where Jethro told him that it wasn’t good that he was doing all this work, when he was called to be with God. So Moses recruited others to help him with the work of helping judge the disputes of the people, and Moses went up the mountain to be with God. Well, I was trying to be with God and, to me, the mountain was a sheer cliff with no way to get to the top.
Secondly, I heard a Facebook video posted by a well-known Christian comedienne. It seemed that she was also struggling through this time of isolation, and she shared about a picture that she had seen, a painting depicting the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ robe in order to be healed. She stated that she just wanted to get close enough to touch Jesus. Yes, that was what I was feeling also.
Then I listened to a fitness instructor, of all people, who had me bawling by the end of her workshop presentation on creating healthy routines. Somehow I realized how much I depended upon routines, and I had been out of routine, plus I was doing some things that were preventing me from taking care of myself.
So all of these things nourished something within me that finally got me motivated and “out of myself.”
With both my husband and I getting back to our workplaces - getting back to a sense of normalcy and routine, it seemed that whatever it was that was hovering over us suddenly lifted. I’ve started implementing a new routine that includes not only physical, but spiritual disciplines, from which I’ve seen some improvement in my emotional and mental health, as well. I do have to say that I’m still not sure what God has been and is still trying to teach me through all of this, but I am thankful for His faithfulness to me.
While this post started out to be something that I hoped would be inspiring and encouraging to others, it turned out to be more of a confession on my part. And you know what they say about that…
I meant to add this scripture to this blog:
Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.