The message on Day 16 of the book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life seems especially appropriate for the times we find ourselves embroiled in on March 13, 2020.
Today the world is in frenzy around the health crisis brought on by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Schools are closed. Disneyland is closed. Broadway is closed. Even church is closed. Rumor has it, people are hiding in forts made of toilet paper—at least, one editorial cartoon suggests as much. There are at this moment more than 1,600 cases in the US and 41 deaths. A state of federal emergency has been declared.
Though published in 2012, today’s focus could not be appropriate as the title of the entry is “Feeling vs. Fact, The Joy of the Truth.” I am not saying that extreme precautions do not need to be taken to prevent the spread of this dastardly virus. News reports suggest that preventing an overload of the healthcare system will improve the outcome for those with the worst cases because of the availability of resources. The problem is the panic. News outlets give us moment-by-moment updates on the worst-case estimates for death while admitting those numbers don’t account for the interventions now underway. We need truth and information, not sensationalism!
The point for Christians, as Newberry points out, is that we can rely on the truth of God’s Word to manage our emotions. Only God knows the outcome of this situation, but we do know God and His promises. The author states, “We cannot trust our feelings to be synonymous with facts. The biggest mistake people make with difficult feelings is accepting them as true.” Newberry tells us that, “emotions are only subjective indicators of objective experience.” He gives the example that, if you were hiking in the woods and suddenly came upon a coiled object, you might experience a jolt of fear thinking it is a snake. Further investigation reveals it is only a bit of rope. No need for such an extreme reaction. When your interpretations change, your emotions change (p. 97).
The Bible says many times to “fear not.” This admonition was generally given to someone who, in the natural, had a reason to be afraid. Joshua setting off to lead the Israelites into battle against the current inhabitants of their Promiseland comes to mind. The reason he was given to remain calm was “For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Can you believe the strength of that statement even if it doesn’t feel true? It is deciding to trust God over your feelings that makes the difference.
We’ve been looking at Philippians 4:6-8 during this study and these verses give us a road map for navigating tough times like these. It’s a four-step plan:
- Don’t worry about anything.
- Pray about everything.
- Thank God for all the times He’s come through in the past.
- Turn your attention to Him and all the beautiful, good things in your life.
The exercise for Day 16 is to think about four historical circumstances that left you the most rattled or threatened and to identify God’s truth that addresses that type of thinking.
What’s got you in turmoil today and what truth from God’s Word can help set you back on your feet?