As we transition into week five of Lent, most of us are wandering around in a malaise, retracing the entrails of our homes as if waking from a bad dream. The coronavirus pandemic in the forefront of thoughts, we are whispering a collective, “Oh, right. It’s still Lent, isn’t it? I forgot about that.” This week, the focus of resting the mind and heart couldn’t be timelier, yes? As you will read, I’ve had a lot of practice with that lately due to a recent health diagnosis; practice I wish I didn’t need.
Pulling garden gloves off both hands, I pick up the ringing phone and read private number on the screen before saying, “Hello.”
A British female on the line identifies herself as a doctor with the medical practice in my neighborhood. “I have the results of your CT Colonography and wondered if you have time today?”
“Yes, I have time,” I said. Who doesn’t have time right now, I thought? The whole wide world is being asked to stay home.
“Don’t come to the practice because it’s been turned into a Covid-19 site. Only patients displaying symptoms of the coronavirus are being seen there,” she explains, giving me an alternate address. “And you can bring someone along with you.”
I put the phone down on the bookshelf, along with the pen and paper I’d used to jot down the postal code, turn around, and make eye contact with H.
“She told me I can bring someone along. I’m thinking she has some hard news to deliver.”
“What time is the appointment,” H asks.
“Four o’clock,” I reply. We have three hours before leaving the house.
He stands up, wraps his arms around me and my cheek sinks into the zipper on the sweater he’s donned every day for the past week. Walks upstairs to his makeshift desk and reschedules the last Zoom call on his agenda. I abandon planting pansies in the garden to make a pot of chili. As spices mingle, the familiar scent of my children’s carefree adolescence wafts through all three stories of our terrace house.
How do you navigate a personal health crisis during a global pandemic?
How do you homeschool your kids while working full time in the same space?
How does a new relationship bloom while practicing social distancing?
How can you offer peace to people counting on you when your heart is tangled with anxiety?
How does a business pay employees when there is no money coming in?
How do those same employees pay for rent and food?
How do you quiet your mind when everything familiar has transformed into a new kind of uncertainty?
We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
How to Transition from Fear to Peace
When I feel anxiety pulse through my body, I begin fixing my eyes on the unseen by meditating on Psalm 23 line-by-line. Adoring God, the imagery in the verses overshadow fear of what-ifs and create uncharacteristic calm.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
Lord, I adore you for being my shepherd. Thank you that you know exactly what I need when I need it. You know when I’m hungry and when I need to rest. You provide guidance and rescue when I choose the wrong path. I lack nothing because your love and care are all I need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
Lord, thank you for provision. Your gifts are verdant, lush, and abundant. Amid isolation, I adore you for leading me to quiet places where the beauty of heaven is reflected. Lead me into truth that refreshes my soul when I feel drained from dire projections on the television.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Lord, I adore you for leading me on the right path for your sake, not for the sake of my selfish desires. Where you lead, there is safety in your presence. Help me to recognize your back and identify your footprints when my mind is foggy, and heart is vulnerable.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Lord, we are walking through unprecedented times in our history. May we learn from the Israelites wandering through the desert. Help us to remain steadfast in belief and not be led by outward circumstances. Our uncertainty is your opportunity to reveal the certainty of your love for us. I adore your rod and staff because they are a sign of your affection for your lambs. Grant each of us a gentle poke; a reminder that we are not forgotten but cherished.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Even in a global battle with the enemy of the coronavirus, you prepare a table for us. I adore that your table is safe because you are seated there with us. There isn’t a battle in this world that you have lost to the enemy. Be my shield when I feel open to attack, exposed, and vulnerable.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Thank you for unseen favor that drips from being your child. I adore your Fatherhood. Not only do you provide what I need but what you provide often overflows onto others.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
How I respond to uncertainty not only affects me but my spouse, children, friends, and neighbors. Help me to live into the person you envision I can be one or five years from now. Though my house is currently a safe haven, bricks and mortar cannot save me. Ultimately, safety resides in the home you are preparing for us now.
The windows are open, and the sun is shining as the Circle line hums on the tracks next to the doctor’s office. “The CT shows you have quite a large mass growing in the soft tissue just below your liver,” the doctor tells H and I. “It’s possible it might be lymphoma.”
I have a biopsy scheduled for Friday at 8.30am. Would you pray with me for the outcome of benign?
We are hard pressed on every side, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8
A Few Changes that Affect You
Because of the recent disruptions caused by a pandemic and health issues, I’m going to take a short break from blogging to finish the edits on my forthcoming book, Searching for Certainty: Finding God in the Disruptions of Life. While the coronavirus and tumor growing in my body were nowhere on my radar when I was writing my next book, the timing and theme of uncertainty feels providential. You can pre-order a copy here.
And if you need gentle restful reminders that allow your soul to breathe deeper, listen to 10-minute podcasts by joining my Patreon community here. Also find vodcast personal updates and details about the release of Searching for Certainty there too.
While I cannot respond to every email received from my readers right now, please know that I read every one of them. I’m deeply grateful for your words of encouragement and prayers. They buoy me when I begin drifting away from Peace. Keep them coming and thank you!
Places that Cultivate Peace of Mind
I’m Praying Through the Psalms with this book from Cindy Hamilton.
Join a worldwide community for prayer and meditation on verses that conjure peace through the pandemic with the Lectio 365 app.
Learn how to apply adoration to your middle minutes while at home. As an early reader of Sara Hagerty’s new book, Adore, I highly recommend it for such a time as this. Pre-order it now! And she’s showing us how adoration looks practically on Instagram.