How are you doing this week? Last week I asked that question in relation to leading the mission. This week I am asking the question in relation to you personally? How are you doing? To be the leader needed for this time, you must keep yourself healthy and focused. You can’t lead others to become who God created them to be if you aren’t at peace with yourself, your work, and with God.
In the midst of all the noise and chaos of our everyday living, it can be hard to feel at peace. It can be so hard that we can go days, weeks, even months without feeling a true sense of calm. I understand. There are days that it would feel good just to feel good for a change.
You Are a Leader
I want to remind you that you are the leader for this time. You are leading in ways you never imagined. Now I get it. On any given day, as you are learning another aspect of technology, there are people upset that they are not back in the sanctuary.
As you work with them, you get an email from someone who points out that the guidelines say “no more than 10 persons” should gather. Then, there is the person who is upset that you have said something about racism and loving your neighbor. All you want is to be the pastor, preacher, and leader you know you can be.
Before the Pandemic
Before the pandemic, you had time to read and reflect and enjoy the relationships. Now, you feel as if you are rushing from event to (virtual) event, from conversation to conversation, and you might even feel the world would be a better place if it weren’t for people. (It’s ok to admit you’ve said it, too.)
I get it. It would be nice to have a little time and space for yourself. It would be great if you felt some peace and calm.
If you are willing to take a little journey with me, I guarantee peacefulness at the end. So, if you are willing, here is what I want you to do.
Get your Bible or open your Bible app.
- Read Lamentations 3, paying attention to verses 22-24. I am using the Good News Translation. “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning and as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” (Good News Translation)
Consider the context of Lamentations.
Israel is in captivity.
The people are grieving. The writer, speaking on behalf of the people, writes, “I am the one who knows what it is to be punished by God. He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness and beat me again and again with merciless blows.” (Verses 1-3) All they have known and depended upon is gone. Their lives have been disrupted. The people are totally preoccupied with their own pain.
They are grieving physically.
The people are weary. “He (God) has left my flesh open and raw and has broken my bones” (Verse 4). When you are physically weary, you will do just about anything, other than what you are doing, to get past the weariness.
They are grieving spiritually.
“He (God) has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape” (Verse 7). The people feel like there is no future and things will not get better. They want God to comfort them, but God cannot be reached. “I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen” (Verse 8).
They are grieving psychologically.
Read verses 10-18. The imagery is of being attacked and alone, humiliated with no hope. “The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed” (Verses 19-20). No matter how much we think we are prepared for the loss, it always comes with pain. The writer of Lamentations had been preparing for this for 40 years, yet the people are still surprised.
But they continue to pray.
They do what they know to do. Earlier in the chapter, they could not pray. They didn’t feel like praying. They didn’t think praying made any difference. Remember, “Even when I cry out, God shuts out my prayer” (Verse 8).
So here is a turning point.
What do you do when your experience does not match what you have been taught or what you expect? The writer chooses to embrace hope. The writer chooses to hope in God’s goodness. Remember, hope is shaped and strengthened through a personal and internal struggle. “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning and as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, in the Lord I will place my hope” (verses 22-24).
The writer, speaking on behalf of the people, places their confidence in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God. God’s mercy never ceases.
Take the reflection of this scripture with you today. Think about how the truth of this scripture will come alive for you. To help stimulate your thinking:
- Where might you experience God’s unfailing love and mercy?
- In what you are facing, where will you embrace hope?
- As you navigate the changes brought about by a pandemic, how will you show your trust in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God?
- As you lead and teach about anti-racism, how will you show your trust in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God?
At the end of day, or at a time of reflection upon the scripture and your interactions of the day, consider:
- Where did you experience God’s unfailing love and mercy today?
Remember, God’s love will not run out. God’s merciful love will not dry up. The love of God is created new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness.
A Pattern for Living with Jesus
This pattern of “Read, Reflect, Respond, Return” is a great practice of creating a little time and space to be connected to God. It provides you the opportunity to recognize God every day even in the midst of the chaos and confusion. Your connection to God is what brings the peace that allows you to become who you were created to be.
So, what is one thing you will do to create a little time and space for yourself? What is one thing you will do to place your confidence and hope in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God?
Remember, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are available to assist you along your journey. Head over to the podcast and explore episodes 122-128 or 129-131 to use this pattern to explore discipleship in the context of Matthew or John’s gospels.
So, now, how are you? May you always be as blessed as you are a blessing!