DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT: A 2020 survival guide


I started my 2020 survival guide with the post “Faith, Hope and Love.” It was followed in short order by “Finding Faith”, “Building Faith” and “Walking by Faith”. It was time to start writing about hope. Yet every time I sat down to write, the words were like a classroom of unruly 2-year olds on a massive sugar high. IF I could find the words, I couldn’t get them to sit still long enough to form a coherent sentence.

The truth is, I was having trouble writing about hope, because I was having trouble finding hope. I had already hit the proverbial wall with the COVID situation. Social distancing and being separated from family and friends had worn thin. Then came the murder of George Floyd. That was more than I could handle. In the wake of all 2020 had dished out I found myself struggling with a onslaught of negative emotions.

I don’t experience discouragement often. This time however, I just couldn’t shake off the negative emotions that were overwhelming me. I found myself getting ground down by 2020 and all its fallout. I was relating a little too much with Job’s outcry; “Where now is my hope?Will it go down with me into Sheol? Shall we go down together in the dust?” (Job 17:15.)

We are facing a LOT of challenges. Apart from the health concerns, there is the financial impact of all this on families, businesses and the country. There is tremendous uncertainty about what life will be like on the other side of COVID. The stresses on marriages and families can be overwhelming. There are arguments about everything from public health and safety versus economic recovery, to the ‘correct’ response to racial injustice. These arguments are being expressed at VOLUME. Conflict is everywhere. People are angry. Some are expressing their anger violently. It’s all disheartening! It steals hope.

What do we do when hope feels this elusive? 

No matter how long all this lasts or how tough it gets, our answer is in the LORD and His promises! 

“So now we must cling tightly to the Hope that LIVES WITHIN US, knowing that God ALWAYS keeps His promises!” (Heb. 10:23) emphasis added 

PROMISE #1 – He is our hope.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,” (Lam. 3:25).  He has good plans for us, plans for hope and a future of hope and prosperity (Jer 29;11) 

When I started asking Why are you downcast O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?”, the answer was Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God”(Ps. 42:5).

We can face the challenges and uncertainties with confidence by trusting God “with all our heart.” When we lean on His understanding rather than our own, we have the assurance of His wisdom. “He will direct and make [our] path[s] straight and plain.” (Prov. 3:5-6) 

PROMISE #2 – He is our refuge.

“God is our Refuge and Strength, mighty and impenetrable. A very present and well proved help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)

When we begin to feel hopeless in the face of all the stresses and uncertainties of 2020, we need to seek the refuge that can be found in God alone. His compassions are new every morning and his faithfulness is unending! (Lam 3:22-23P)

PROMISE #3 – He is our comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT, who comforts us in ALL OUR TROUBLES so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4) emphasis added

We can find comfort and consolation for the losses and disappointments 2020 has brought in its wake because Jesus is a High priest who KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS our human frailty and needs, from the inside out. Because He has shared in our weaknesses and infirmities, He knows what we are going through. (Heb. 4:15) When we seek comfort in Him, we can learn to be content in all circumstances because in Him, we will know the secret of facing any circumstance, even 2020. (Phil 4:11)

 

 

WATER FOR A THIRSTY SOUL

Photo by Daniel Watson from PexelsPhoto by Daniel Watson


I love rain. I love the sound, the smell. I love standing in a gentle rain on a warm summer day.

Listening to the patter of rain on my porch I began to contemplate the nature of water. Water is really amazing stuff.  You can drink it, wash in it, use it to put out fires. It makes plants grow and carves canyons through solid rock. It’s as tiny as a drop of rain and as big as the ocean. It’s a gentle shower or a mighty torrent overwhelming everything in its path.

Water is crucial to our survival, more critical than food. A human being can go about three weeks without food. We will only last three DAYS without water. Water sustains life. We spend the first part of our lives floating in it as God knits us together in our mother’s womb.

Water can take life as well. I lived near the beautiful Clear Creek River, a crystal-clear river flowing down from the peaks of the Colorado Rockies. It’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. It runs fast and the current is strong. In addition, the river hides boulders and pockets of strong undertow. Every year someone would disappear on the river only to reappear days later when the river’s under tow released their bodies. As much as I was in awe of the beauty of that river, I had a healthy respect for its power.

The nature of water is similar to the nature of God. He is water for the thirsty soul. He washes us through the Word until we are as white as snow. He quenches the flaming arrows of the enemy. He causes our faith to grow. He carves through the stony heart of sin to restore the years the locus ate. He is the still small voice and the creator of the universe who flooded the earth and shakes its foundations.

He sustains our lives. Going more than three days without Him can be deadly. He desires a relationship with us that is as intimate and vital as our relationship to the water in the womb. When we come to know God, we are in awe of His beauty and have a healthy respect for His power.

This is a season where understanding the nature of God can truly be water for a thirsty soul. As things change on a seemingly daily basis it can feel like being swept away in the current of a strong river. The stresses of working from home and managing children, family and finances in this COVID dominated atmosphere can feel like being sucked into an undertow. The pressure on marriages can increase the frequency and intensity of marital conflict until it feels like you have slammed into a hidden boulder.

Thankfully we have a God who able to care for our needs no matter the season. If we place our trust and hope in the Lord, we “shall be like a tree planted by waters which spreads out its roots by the river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green”. We need not be “be anxious in [this] year of drought, nor will  [we] cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:8 NKJV). When we believe in Him “rivers of living water will burst out from within [us], flowing from [our] innermost being just like scripture says!” (John 7:38 TPT)

SEEK JUSTICE: Micah 6:8


Seek Justice Matheus Viana from Pexels

Photo by Matheus Viana


Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 AMP)

We are facing real issues of injustice in our nation right now. The deaths of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor are deeply painful wounds in a long standing and evil injustice. People are profoundly hurt and justifiably angry. It is an injustice that is wounding our hearts and souls, and our nation.

I truly believe most people are united in the desire to bring this evil to an end. How do we seek justice without going to war against each other? How do we create safe places for people to speak their pain and hurt in a way that fosters true healing and unity? That is unity, NOT uniformity.

In studying the life of Jacob I have found my way through. I have found my voice. I am not saying I have all the answers. I don’t. However, in Jacob’s story I see a way to address the situation. The thing that has stood out to me most in this study, is the relationships, especially the relationship between Jacob and Laban.

Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years, 14 of those as an indentured servant. Throughout their relationship, Laban operated deceptively and opportunistically. At every turn he cheated Jacob. When he did agree to pay Jacob, Laban continually changed the terms of Jacobs pay to benefit himself and keep Jacob indentured. It was one betrayal after another. In that time Laban profited tremendously from Jacobs abilities and favor with God.

It is the hallmark of the abuser to devalue others and see them only as tools to be used. Laban valued Jacob only for what he could get from Jacob and used him. By contrast Jacob valued Laban as a creation of the almighty and dealt with him with integrity. Jacob exercised great integrity and humility. To be VERY clear; humility is NEVER to be understood as passively complying with someone who uses and abuses you! Real humility, the humility that Jacob displayed, was to acknowledge Laban as a human being made in the image of God, whether Laban reflected it or not. Jacob submitted himself to God, then dealt with Laban was an extension of his relationship with God. That takes real strength of character and True integrity.

After 20 years of servitude, Jacob asked to leave with his family. Laban offered Jacob a salary. Laban doesn’t do this from a place of integrity. He does it so he can continue to benefit from Jacob’s skill and favor with God. Because Jacob is following God’s lead, he agrees to Laban’s terms for wages. True to character Laban continues to use and cheat him.

Amazingly, Jacob didn’t use Laban’s breach of contract as a reason, though justified, to go to war with him. Instead of fighting against Laban’s deception and treachery, Jacob stays within the terms of the contract and allows God to turn events to Jacobs benefit. No matter how Laban cheated, God used Laban’s treachery to benefit Jacob. Because he followed God’s lead, Jacob prevailed and God was able to prosper and protect him in a way that would have been impossible otherwise.

Ultimately God Himself deals the blow that ends Laban’s abuses. God tells Jacob he is free to go without Laban’s consent and warns Laban to leave Jacob unmolested. Laban can’t quite do that, so he confronts Jacob about ‘sneaking away’. Jacob responds, “if the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had not been with me you would surely have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the labor of my hands and rebuked you.” (Gen. 31:42) It is Laban who walks away empty-handed. Jacob prevails.

Jacob’s integrity and humility in the face of Laban’s injustice are why he prevails. It is one of the reasons God changed his name to Israel. Israel means contender or one who prevails. Jacob contended with Laban, but it wasn’t all out war. Like a prizefighter, Jacobs made choices and took actions based on godly values and principles. As a result, Jacob prevailed. I want to believe that Laban was changed through this interaction but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is I need to choose whose lead will I follow?

Will I be like Laban valuing people only for what I can get out of them to further my agenda?

OR

Will I choose to be like Jacob and acknowledge the image of God in everyone and treat them with integrity and respect?

Like Jacob we need to follow God’s lead in the present and demonic situation. We do what God tells us to do and move when he calls us to move. We allow humility and integrity to direct our actions. We acknowledge and honor the image of God in every human being. We speak humbly with the strength of the Spirit. We wrestle with God and NEVER let go until He changes our name, until He transforms us into godly contenders who prevail without destroying. Then whatever God tells us to do, we do it! Perhaps then God can bring an end to the humiliation and affliction of racism.

THE VALUE OF LIFE

God said, Let us make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness…In the image and likeness of God He created them: male and female He created them. (Gen 2:26, 27 AMP)

I avoided watching the George Floyd video. I have lived through enough violence in my life, that seeing it affects me deeply. A trusted friend suggested I needed to see it, so I watched. I was horrified by what I saw! It gutted me! Seeing a police officer, sworn to protect citizens and uphold the law, murder a man in such a brutal and indifferent manner shredded my soul! Now, everyone wants to put their spin on it.  ‘He was a lifelong petty criminal with a history of drugs.’  ‘He was a Bible believing Christian with a history of ministry’

The fact is, neither of those things matter. If he had been a full-on enforcer for the worst gang in the country, responsible multiple deaths, his murder was still unjust and wrong. It is not a police officers’ job to execute punishment for crimes by kneeling on someone’s neck until they are dead. His life was not the officer’s to take.  IF, by the laws of this country, George Floyd had been CONVICTED of crimes worthy of the death penalty, it is the job of the court system to determine and dole out punishment. If that had happened, it certainly would not have been the cruel and unusual punishment exacted by that officer. Likewise, it doesn’t make his death more unjust or more wrong, if he was a Bible believing minister. It might make it more tragic but not more unjust or more wrong.

The value of human life isn’t based on good behavior or devalued by bad.  A person’s character may be tarnished by bad behavior, but our value as human beings is a constant based on being made in the image of God, plain and simple. It can’t be changed. It can’t be enhanced or diminished. Our value is inherent, meaning it is a permanent and essential part of being human. It can’t be taken away. George Floyd was deprived of the basic human right of life by an act of depraved indifference to his value as a human being made in the image of God.  It is wrong on its face.  How George lived his life does not determine his value as a human being or justify taking his life.     

Whenever we start defining the value of human life based on something other than being made in the image of God, we are on DANGEROUS ground. We have missed the point. Defining the value of another human being based on good or bad behavior, the colour of their skin or any other category we want to place people in, is a trap from the enemy. It is wrong. It is evil incarnate. Left unchallenged, it will ultimately lead to the subjugation and destruction of the value of all humanity under the heels of hateful and evil people. It MUST be rooted out and opposed in all its forms!

Mr. Floyd may have committed a crime.  If he did, he deserved to be tried in a court of law. If convicted he deserved to be given a punishment equal to his crime.  He did not deserve to be deprived of his value and dignity as a human being. He did not deserve to be murdered in the street in the brutal, depraved and racist way he was. We need to value and protect human life and treat each other with dignity even, and perhaps especially, in difficult circumstances. When we are in situations of conflict, we need to protect the rights and dignity of all people or no one will have either. Every life is valuable. Every life matters, without exception

 

 

 

 

 

WALKING BY FAITH: a 2020 Survival Guide


walk by faith picPhoto by Betsy O’Neal


“However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine light of the Gospel, in frail, human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of power may be from God… We are hedged in and pressed on every side, troubled and oppressed, but not crushed, we suffer embarrassments and we are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair. We are pursued but not deserted to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never…destroyed” 2 Cor 4:7-9 AMP

With COVID being such a BIG part of our daily lives, these words have taken on a new meaning. We are painfully aware of the frailty and vulnerability of our bodies. If you’re sheltering, being hedged in is not a metaphor, it’s a reality. Social distancing can lead to almost total isolation for those who are sheltering alone.

COVID is pressing in on EVERY side, oppressing the whole world. We are struggling to find a way out. We are working to understand how to contain its spread and heal those who have been infected. It can all seem so devastating. However, we have a promise from God, Himself. He promises that that we will not be crushed, or driven to despair. We will NOT be deserted or forced to face this crisis alone! We will NOT be destroyed!

But what if we’re not experiencing these promises? How do we get to a place where we can live this victory?

“For we walk by faith, not by sight, living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises.” 2 Cor 5:7 AMP

Walking by faith is something we all aspire to do. But let’s face it, it’s one of the hardest things for us to accomplish. Part of the reason it’s so hard, is that walking by faith means that we aren’t in control. Few of us are overly comfortable with being out of control. I know I am not!

I recently experienced a visual disturbance in my brain that caused me to see double. For over two weeks, walking anywhere was a major trial. The only way I managed it, was to walk eyes closed. This worked well enough in our house. I have lived here for almost 20 years. My body has the muscle memory of every inch of our home. I subconsciously know exactly how many steps from our bedroom door to the top of our stairs. I just had to trust my bodies internal direction.

Walking in our house was one thing. Walking outside was a whole different problem. Every evening my husband and I go for a walk together. We have done this almost every night since we were married. Our nightly walk is something I LOVE. I was unwilling to give it up. So, I closed my eyes, placed my hand in my husband’s hand and let him lead me through our evening walk.

At first, it was difficult. I was scared. However, it didn’t take long before I was moving along comfortably at our normal pace. Why? Because I trust my husband. I know his love for me. I know the quality and composition of his character. He takes his vow to provide for and protect me, wild child that I am, very seriously! No easy task I can assure you! I was able walk beside him blindly, confident in my safety, because I know he cares for me affectionately and watches over me carefully. The same is true when it comes to faith.

To walk by faith, we need two things.

1) We need to put our hand in God’s mighty hand and trust Him to lead us. If we allow Him to, He will guide us safely through, not just COVID, but all of life!

2) Walking by faith requires that we get to know the One we are trusting with our welfare. We need to know God LOVES us! To walk by faith, we need a RELATIONSHIP with Him.

We need to know the quality and composition of His character. We need to believe that He protects and provides for us every minute of every day. We need to know that He cares for us affectionately and watches over us carefully. When we know this, we can cast the whole of our cares; all our worries, anxieties, and all our concerns, regarding the COVID situation and all of life, onto Him and walk by faith. (1 Peter 5:7)

When we know the One making the promises, it becomes easy to live our lives trusting CONFIDENTLY in those promises. Because we KNOW Him, we are able to walk by faith not by sight.

MANAGING MARITAL STRESS: a 2020 survival guide


Photo by vera Asric cropped

Photo by Vera Arsic


With social distancing being the order of the day and tons of folk working from home, couples and families are finding themselves spending non-stop time together. No matter how much you love your spouse and kids this non-stop togetherness can get stressful! That stress can lead to conflict.

In our home we have two very strong willed, very different personalities. My husband’s means of coping with stress is “a place for everything and everything in its place”. My coping mechanism is doing creative projects. The two styles couldn’t be more in conflict! Creativity does NOT lend itself well to “everything in its place.” According to Joe, it’s more like chaos in motion. He’s right!

In addition, we have polar opposite processing styles. My husband is a sequential processor. I am a random processor. That means when there is a task to be accomplished, he progresses through the steps in an a-z sequential order. Whereas I pop around the steps in a very random way.

Each style has its strengths and weaknesses. His style makes him world class at logistics. If it takes careful planning to execute, he’s your man! The weakness is, if things can’t be executed sequentially it can really throw a wrench in his works. Because I navigate situations randomly, constantly changing variables don’t throw me off as badly. However, I can miss important details by popcorning around a situation.

The thing is, it takes BOTH styles to manage life on a normal basis. In our current environment, having BOTH styles is a HUGE blessing! So, if we are operating with polar opposites, how do we make the most of our differences?

1) Keep in mind that God brought us together as couples for a reason.

He knows our personalities, strengths and weaknesses, better than we do. He paired us with our spouses deliberately. Our combined differences as people are our strengths as a couple. Our spouse’s polar opposites may be the exact balance needed to mitigate our weaknesses. So, value and respect what you each bring to the table.

2) Marriage needs to be other centered.

In the book ” Sacred Marriage” author Gary Thomas suggests that the true purpose marriage is to become more like Christ. Put bluntly, marriage isn’t about meeting my needs. It’s about loving my spouse in the way that Christ loves me and making the needs of another my priority. Managing my chaos may not be the best for my creative process, but it’s good for my husband and our marriage!

Phil 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with an attitude of humility, regard others as more important than yourselves.”

3) As married couples, we aren’t in this alone. We are a threefold cord with God at the center.

Eccl. 4:9 says “Two are better than one.” There are going to be times in all this where each of us will falter, fail and fall. Being married means that we have a companion to lift us up when we go down (Eccl 4:10). We have our combined strength to resist the being overpowered by the problems and stresses. “A cord of three stands is not easily broken” (Eccl 4:12). We need to lean into and on each other and center ourselves in God.

4) Most importantly, we need to extend each other GRACE.

In the devotion “Love Sex and Lasting Relationships” Chip Ingram defines love as “Giving the other person what they need most when they deserve it the least”. This is the ESSENCE of Grace. It is EXACTLY what Christ did for us. He gave up everything, including His life, for the most undeserving people ever! In this time of non-stop togetherness and high stress, we need to extend each other this same kind of grace.

This kind of Grace isn’t easy, but we don’t have to muster it out of our own resources. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is equipping us with everything we need for life and godliness. He will teach us how to walk in this kind of grace. If we surrender our will to His, He will enable us to give grace even when it’s the last thing we want to do and our marriage will be stronger when this is over!

BUILDING FAITH: a 2020 survival guide


contemplation be still


In this post I am featuring fellow writer Laura Mirriello Campbell. Her thoughtful and vulnerable perspective on the beauty that can be found in this time of social distancing is WELL WORTH the read! There is GREAT value in being still with God especially now. This is a unique opportunity to build our faith in a way that nothing else can. Take it. Revel in it. Celebrate it! Take this time to Build your Faith!


God is our refuge and strength, mighty and impenetrable, a very present help in time of trouble…”Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the Earth.” Ps 46:1, 10 AMP


By Laura Mirello Campbell

Taking a step back. A break. A breather. Social distancing. Whatever you want to call it… it can be a beautiful thing. I have been practicing this for quite a few months now because I have been heart-sick and have been in desperate need of hearing what God would want to speak into the broken places of my heart.

I have been sharply reprimanded by a few people for this. I suppose it’s because some people can’t understand not keeping a full calendar with visits, coffee dates, and luncheons. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these things but I have chosen to be selective in my social engagements.

I think we have become so accustomed to social gatherings and not doing life alone, that we have forgotten that there is a quiet place, and sometimes quiet seasons, where God longs to meet with us and speak/breathe life into the depths of who we are. His desire is to have an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. And sometimes, intimacy requires aloneness.

Think about it… you wouldn’t be intimate with your spouse in front of others, let alone in the midst of a large gathering of people, would you? Of course not… because the intimacy you share/have with your spouse is for you two, alone. It is the time that brings you together as one, it builds and strengthens your relationship. It’s a time when that one person can speak to your heart like no one else.

I believe God desires aloneness with us. I believe He longs to have one on one conversations with us. I believe He wants to speak into the broken places, the dry places, the hurting places, the confused places, the sick places, the addicted places and the anxious places of our hearts like no one else can. But I wonder how many of us can’t hear His call to that secret place because we are so distracted by the noise and priority we have placed on social gatherings?

Now that people all around the world are being forced or cautioned to distance themselves socially… my heart hopes that we will use this time to reconnect with God. That we will find and sit in those secret places of intimacy with Him. I hope we will reconnect with our families. I hope we will be more discerning and be made aware of the needs of others in our communities. I hope that this alone time causes such a deep reach from within that we can’t help but reach out to bless our neighbors by praying for them and with them when possible. Maybe just drop a few necessities on their doorstep or tape cards of encouragement to their storm door.

Aloneness doesn’t always have to mean being alone. It really can mean togetherness. It can speak life and wisdom. It can produce wholeness and healing. It CAN be a beautiful thing.


Find a place to be intimate with the one who loves your soul, deeply and intimately. Take this time when we have been ordered to shelter and take shelter in the one who cares about you with the deepest affection and watches over you carefully (1 Peter5:7 AMP). Build your faith in the One who is unfailingly faithful!

FINDING FAITH; a 2020 survival guide


alex-woods- faith that never fails

Photo by Alex Woods


So how do we find a faith worth taking the leap for?

For me, that faith was found through the actions of another. When someone demonstrated UNDESERVED love to me, it gave me something REAL to put my faith in. I found a faith that will NEVER fail because I found the One whose very nature DEFINES what it is to BE faithful!

For most of us it is easy to love people who love us. However, when we are hurt or betrayed, love becomes a challenge. Loving an enemy seems almost impossible. Everyone experiences times when love is a hard-fought act of will! The thing is, loving others the way God loves us, has the potential to change their lives. My Dad exemplified this kind of love.

My biological father was a violent and abusive alcoholic. My parents were divorced when I was 7. My mother has mental illness issues and suspect taste in men. Following the divorce, a parade of very abusive men came in and out of our lives. By the time I was 12, I had become accustomed to managing the dangers these men posed. When my mom remarried, everything changed.

In my experience, no matter how nice men were in the beginning, abuse was always just a miss-step away, hidden behind the smile. As a result, I was horrible to my mother’s new husband in a way only an abused, distrustful 12-year-old can be. I flatly refused to talk to him. I was deliberately disobedient and spiteful. I encouraged my sisters to be disobedient. Even though I sat next to him at dinner, I wouldn’t look at him or pass food.

After six weeks of silent warfare, I finally condescended to speak. In my most sarcastic voice I asked: ” So what are we supposed to call you? Uncle Chuck?” I grabbed the seat of my chair and braced for the blow I was certain was coming. He met my defiant gaze, and lovingly said: “I don’t know, but I would like it if you called me Dad.”

In that moment I experienced the full weight of God’s grace. I broke! Later that evening I asked my Dad how he could treat me with such love when all I had given him was contempt. In response, he introduced me to the faith that has sustained me through thick and thin; faith in Christ Jesus.

I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I have given my life to God. The relationship that has been forged in this act of faith has enabled me to have hope in whatever situation I find myself in because I know I am not alone. I KNOW that the One who walks beside me is FAITHFUL in ALL things. God is ALWAYS with me guiding, protecting and cherishing me. God is my comfort, my wisdom, my teacher and so much more! He enables me to manage whatever life throws at me and brings good and joy out of it all!


God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:9 AMP (emphasis added)


God is calling us into a relationship , into companionship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. This RELATIONSHIP of faith is open to EVERYONE. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)

FACING FINANCIAL FEAR: a 2020 survival guide

Betsy Oneal2

Photo By Betsy Townsend O’Neal


He said, “I will never leave you under any circumstance, desert you nor give up on you, nor leave you without support, nor will I, in any degree leave you helpless. I will not forsake you or let you down or relax My hold on you, assuredly not!” Heb. 13:5b AMP

We often quote this verse when trying to bring comfort and peace of mind to a people facing a variety of crises; from dealing with illness to managing marital difficulties. Its true that God will never desert us to face any situation alone. But if you look at this verse in context it actually about something VERY specific, money.

Everyone is experiencing the effects of COVID on our finances. Many businesses are temporarily shut down. People have lost their source of income completely. Some effects are more subtle but no less difficult. My husband’s company relies heavily on components from China. As COVID has ravaged China, they can’t get their components. No components, no product to sell. No good.

A survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant stress for 44% of all Americans. Money worries rank as one of the top three causes of marital conflict. Fear over finances can be directly linked to depression and illness. With COVID creating such chaos, the percentage of Americans stressing over money has skyrocketed.

So how do we manage financial worries in this COVID dominated landscape?

1) Know that this is TEMPORARY! Right now, it feels like COVID has taken over the world and will never go away. There will be aftershocks in our finances from earthquake COVID. BUT, the intensity and level of disruption from the current crisis WILL PASS.

2) Know that God will never leave us or forsake us in any degree by leaving us without support. He will NOT let us down or relax His hold on our lives, EVER. He will provide for us. We may not see or understand the means. It may not come in the way we would have imagined. But it WILL come!

“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life for all you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing – everything your body needs…Look at all the birds-do you think they worry about existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father?” Matt 6:25-26 TPT (emphasis added).

God clothes the lilies of the field in unmatched splendor! He clothes the grass that is here today gone tomorrow. If He orders and cares for the world He created for us, WHY would He neglect us? We can trust Him to provide for ALL our needs.

3) We need to be willing to look beyond our own needs to the needs of others. Resist the urge to pull in and horde. When Jesus fed the five thousand, He gave the loaves and fish to the disciples and instructed them to feed the people. He gave the provision. They distributed it. We are Jesus hands and feet on this Earth. God is the provider. We are the stewards.

A wise and good steward takes care of the needs of those within their scope of authority. Jesus returned authority of this Earth to humanity when He died on the cross and rose form the grave. We need to step into that authority and be the stewards God has called us to be. We need to look to the needs of each other and love each other in action! We need to share our surplus and serve without expectation of return.

This crisis won’t last forever. We have the opportunity and privilege to be part of enabling others to come through this and make it to the other side.

FAITH HOPE AND LOVE: A 2020 survival guide

Photo by Virendra Verma from Pexels1

Photo by Virendra Verma


In the last week the major sports have canceled or postponed significant portions of their schedules. Schools have closed. Restaurants and bars have been shut down. Movie releases and production of TV shows have been postponed. I couldn’t have imagined this happening two weeks ago.

Whether you believe this is a real danger or an overreaction, you can’t help but notice the effect it is having on our daily lives. Just try scoring a package of TP! With everything that is happening in our social environment, it is not surprising that it is having an effect on our emotional environment.

We went to Walmart to do our provision shopping. There were just as many people in the store as usual, but the whole store was eerily quiet. I mean 4 am on a Monday night quiet! People were very subdued. They were like shocky crash victims just trying to get a handle on what was happening. Fear is rising. It would be easy to get swept away in its tide.

Everything in nature has its oppositional force; light and dark, cold and hot etc. The spiritual world is no different. We often think that the opposite of fear, is courage. It’s NOT. Courage is a response to fear. Fear’s true opposite is faith. Faith enables us to believe that every situation, crisis, or obstacle is creating fear can be overcome. If we can believe that there is a way to victory, something amazing can happen. Faith can spark hope.

Hope enables us to take our eyes off the waves of crisis and the mountains that stand in our way. When we stop focusing on the situation, we begin to see the things that we can’t see when fear has us fixated on the problem. We can see possibilities and allies. Hope breaks us out of tunnel vision and enables us to get a better perspective on the situation. Getting a new angle can reveal an unseen path around or through the mountain in our way. Getting perspective can temper a crisis enough to enable us to begin formulating solutions.

Hope may seem frail but it has a hidden strength. Like striking a match, hope starts out as a small flame. That small flame may enable another person caught in the darkness of fear to strike their own match. If you have even held one lit match beneath another you know that the resulting flame is taller than the height of the individual flames. Together the flames are greater than the sum of their parts. Hope thrives when we look beyond our fear filled situations and dare to join with others.

The next step out of fear is when faith becomes action. Love is faith in action. If we can risk joining our little flame of hope with others, that combined hope sheds light on the fact that we are not facing this crisis alone. We are joined with other people. We NEED to join together and love our neighbors as ourselves to survive this. Together we have enough light to begin to build tunnels through the mountain and bridges over the crisis.

Love enables us to come together and begin sharing each other’s burdens and fighting alongside each other. Then we can begin creating solutions instead of pulling in and hiding. Instead of hording in our fear filled basements, we can share our surplus. We can step out in faith and believe that others will do the same. When we put faith into action, fear has a way of dissolving like mist in the morning light.

These aren’t just words. If you look around you will see people ARE reaching out. People ARE coming together in small grass roots organizations like KC CARE and Spare a Square to deliver groceries and make hard to find supplies available. Companies like Scholastic are offering free online courses for students whose schools are closed. People are making resources available to maintain social connection. Teachers are offering digital office hours for kids to check in and chat with each other. Artists are using Facebook to do art classes for kids stuck at home.

People are gathering together in online groups offering practical solutions to the difficulties occasioned by realities this virus. They are offering encouragement, prayer and a listening ear. They are offering matches to illuminate the darkness of fear with the light of hope. They are loving their neighbor as themselves! When Love becomes faith in action, it’s more than just pretty words. It’s the opposing force to fear that gets us over crisis and through obstacles. It becomes the faith that saves us!
If you are in the Kansas City area and need help or can offer help PLEASE visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/spareasquare/