The last few months have been trying with the emergence of Coronavirus or Covid19. When it hit in December in China, most of us stood watching on the side-lines shaking our heads and saying how sad. We didn’t think it would cross the oceans let alone become a pandemic. Then it started moving and we watched it cross to Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea but still we weren’t too bothered until it reached Italy.
In our lifetimes, many of us have never seen an epidemic outside Asia and Afrika. We had HIV/AIDS in the 80’s and 90’s and Ebola more recently but the greatest impact was felt in the ‘third world’ as we are commonly called. This time it is totally different because Afrika has been spared the initial brunt of infection and death and the developed world has been ravaged in ways we cannot begin to understand.
The facts are that there are many infections and the most vulnerable ones are the elderly. The facts are that it is a viral pneumonia that the body has to fight. The facts are that the elderly and those with weakened immunity with underlying chronic illnesses are at greatest risk because what actually kills is the complications from underlying conditions. The facts are that the things all media houses are talking about is the infections and deaths but not those who recover. The facts are that the virus has no respect for persons, social position and wealth. True right?
So panic set in and hording started and it has gone south from there.
The fear and panic is what has my attention. It is tangible and palpable almost thick enough to cut with a knife. It is in every social media post and every new bulletin. It spikes when a presser is called by a health or government official and when a new patient is found. It rises when you go to the cupboard and see the packet of rice or the vegetables getting finished. It rises every few hours and it will continue to rise if we don’t find ways to deal with the fear.
Have I felt the fear? Yes. Some reading this would wonder why? Well, to be honest, as I watched the growing reach and rising numbers I couldn’t help feeling the fear for a bit wondering what was going on and why it was happening. I couldn’t understand why in this developed world such a pandemic would happen. I had watched a documentary on the Spanish flu a few weeks ago and the similarity between that and Covid19 were so insane. So yes, for a little while, I felt the fear and it almost became a crippling year.
My daily pattern is to watch international news as I work and so this fuelled the fear because it was the main story with different aspects and additions breaking all the time. Even the documentaries would be interrupted with updates and long winded conversations about the virus and its devastating nature, countries on lock down, people losing jobs and lives being forever changed. It rose to a peak very quickly and almost paralysed me before I pulled back to look at it. Yes, pulled back to look at it.
Was there another way of dealing with this fear?
Yes, there was another way. Remember the saying, feel the fear but do it anyway? I choose to analyse the fear that was building. Why was I so fearful? What did I stand to lose? As I looked within I begun to understand what was fuelling the fear. The very fact that I couldn’t determine how fast it would get here, would my nation suffer excessively in terms of people, economics and social realities. There’s also the matter of misinformation and fear mongering.
I needed to understand so I began seeking information on the situation; how many have died, how many have recovered, how many are in recovery. What are the conditions associated with rapid spread? What steps are countries taking to take charge? Who are the most vulnerable? What supplies are needed? How long are they setting quarantine? All the information I could find and a lot wasn’t being told publicly or as loudly as the scary side of the situation.
Simple things would save lives: wash hands with water and soap or use hand sanitiser, social distancing, less physical contact, get medical help if feeling unwell and isolate if you are confirmed.
The biggest thing that was scaring me was the reality that at least sixty percent of Kenyans and maybe Afrikans live on or below the poverty line and they would be the most exposed. Why does that bother me? Simple…they are our workforce. Do you have a nanny, housekeeper, gardener, security guard, driver, and caretaker? Where do you think they live?
Our people live in informal settlements with small houses without adequate ventilation, without running water and unable to afford hand sanitiser. They share bathrooms and toilets and are in such close quarters that if one gets sick, cross contamination is a given and guess whose house or workplace it is coming to?
While many are running around and hoarding, it is easy to forget those who cannot do the same. It is easy to be selfish and cater only to your needs and forget others need help. So if you have all the hand sanitiser and your gardener doesn’t have any, don’t you think it could come back to you? many of us cannot survive without our housekeepers yet we are not taking the care we need to about their lives and their health.
I asked my Father for direction, insight, contacts, sources, and true to form He came through.
There is a way God is that makes Matt 6:33 true, ‘…Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.’ It also brought James 4:2b-3 to mind; ‘…Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.’
I hadn’t been asking let alone asking amiss. I just sat in my corner absorbing information that caused terror in my heart. So I recalibrated and focused on asking my Father the questions in my heart. I needed peace and calm and He gave it. I needed insight, He provided it. I needed perspective and He gave it.
There is a peace that we must all come to because God is sovereign and he will always provide a way out. He will direct when to shop, how much, who to shop for, how to help the community. We can no longer live with the degree of selfishness and greed that has driven the world because it has and will continue to separate us and dictate how we treat people.
We can only stand out and be confident in our Father if we truly believe that He is more than able to do everything He says he will do and make good on His promise to care for us. The anchor has to be God because He is the only one who is steadfast through any storm in life. He is a sure support no matter what.
What do you need to ask Him that you will find your peace and anchor afresh?
The anchor holds Though the ship is battered The anchor holds Though the sails are torn I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas The anchor holds in spite of the storm
This song speaks to me every time I hear it. Sometimes it has been in times of great celebration and other times in deep lows. There is such depth in this song that it resonates in all situations. This last week it has resonated through some really challenging times. There have been moments when things have weighed heavily on my heart and I have found great joy reminding myself of the greatness of the God who walks with me.
It was one of those days that started out amazing but the pressure of life stepped in to try and steal the joy of the day. I was working on an assignment that wound up being tougher than I anticipated and for a while I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I needed to do yet there was so much more course left to finish. I tried everything but it wasn’t working. For several moments my heart was heavy and down and I could not even begin to understand how I would get out of it. Then I recognised the thoughts working their way through my brain… thoughts of defeat and inability, thoughts of despair and desperation. Suddenly it hit me and I sat up straight…it was so funny because I was in a restaurant and I suddenly realised that the barrister was watching me with a shocked expression. I must have made a very strange and sudden movement.
My heart was heavy because this difficult assignment in the seemingly simple course had left me feeling inept and bordering on a failure. I was about to throw in the towel and do it later when I felt a check in my spirit. Suddenly I heard it loud and clear “For God hath not given us thespiritoffear; butof power,andoflove,andofasoundmind.” I have a sound mind; I can do this; I will not give up. So I sat there for a couple of minutes and absorbed the clear reminder…Fear Has No Place in My Life; Now or Never. So why was my heart still beating with an uncertain rhythm? Why was I still feeling down? What must I do to deal with what I was feeling? There had to be a way out of here and a deeper connection to something new.
I picked my earphones connected them to my machine and found the above song. I listened to it on repeat a few times and slowly but surely the reality connected to the centre of my heart and I began to really hear. Yes, really hear…
I stand amazed in your presence
There is nothing you cannot do
I stand amazed in your presence
There is joy peace and hope
So even with all that is going on around me God is in control, in all, through all and above all. He cannot be discounted, changed or overcome. When things work differently from what I want it doesn’t mean that He is unaware or disinterested. The goodness of God is unfailing and unchanging and will never be the put on hold. He is there no matter what and I need to connect to Him to understand the way forward.
The reason I stand amazed is because God never fails even when life doesn’t make sense or I am not certain what lies ahead. He is the unfailing source of hope and joy and He never changes. He doesn’t work in the way I want but in all things He works for my good and His glory. There is joy, peace and hope when I understand that His plan for me is perfect and I am secure in His arms of love. I am learning to understand He is there in the good and the hard…I can count on him no matter what.
There’s no one like you, Jesus
There’s no one like you, in all the earth
There’s no one like You, Jesus
There’s no one like you
I wanted to really understand and connect to the reality that God is one of a kind, I needed to know it for myself. So every day I ask God to open my eyes to really see and He does. It has been interesting since then. Every day I see things about Him that amaze me. It’s simple things…the breeze, a smile, a lively conversation between friends, a beautiful car, a motorbike ride, a song in the “matatu”, a train ride, a book…there are so many ways to see Him…yet there are deeper things in these simple things. Think of the genius behind the design of the Porsche, the strength in the steel bridge being built, the delicate weaving of cars on the highway, the beautiful meal at a restaurant…even in all this there is no one and nothing that surpasses the greatness of God.
You do mighty things
You do glorious things
You’re a faithful God
Awesome is your name
God is inexplicable, faithful, glorious, mighty, and awesome. Yet He is mighty more so because He is God and not because of what He does of gives to me. He is just mighty, awesome; glorious because He is…His Name is I AM.
These last few weeks I have been working through the whole lesson of obedience. There are things in my life that I have needed to do but have not had the guts to do yet despite the fact that I know there are far-reaching effects of not doing them. I know you know what I am talking about when I say that often it is harder to do the things we know we should do. Even Paul said “The things I want to do, I do not but those I do not want to do, I do.”
You see, for as long as I know what I need to do and do not do it I live in disobedience to my Lord. However, being as human as I am and working with what I have, leaves me often sorely incompetent to achieve the desired goal and fearful to no end. I struggle with doing things that will alienate me from people more because I don’t want to carry the weight of a broken or bruised relationship. How ironic, because doing nothing hurts me and leaves me unable to be the kind of person I need to be. Catch 22 huh?
As I have thought through things I have realised that the greatest motivator not to do anything is FEAR. When we need to put in a resignation letter fear of the next step makes us sit on it. When we need to leave a relationship that is not working fear of rejection and/or loneliness keeps us in it. When we need to start a business fear of failure keeps us in employment. When we need to take the next step in our walk with Jehovah and it is a strange one fear of the loss of control makes us do nothing.
I had to overcome the fear of following Jehovah recently by doing his bidding unconditionally. The thing I could not explain is that I was petrified. The strangest thing was the desperate fear that letting go would make me fall flat on my face. Ok, I know God loves me and wants the best for me but at this point I could not bring myself to do what I needed to do. After a lot of soul-searching I realised that I had lost my faith and trust in God’s ability to sort me out and was depending on myself for solutions. So I asked myself, when did I lose this ability to trust? What happened to me and where did it happen?
I believe it all started I begun working with my hands and I learnt to provide for my needs. Isn’t it ironic that I say I was providing yet I wasn’t the one providing but it was Jehovah and I had just lost perspective? In the scheme of things opportunities opened up and after a while I lost the conscious remembrance that it is He who creates options then I find and fill. The loss of faith and trust begun with a subtle move from the extraordinary to the ordinary of just being able to put food on the table and make ends meet. In all honesty these provisions did not make up for the loss of a light and airy heart yet it never occurred to me that I had shifted my focus hence the stagnation. I had forgotten the freedom found in being in the centre of the will of Jehovah.
So, what did I do? I got to a place where my life wasn’t working as it needed to and I could only nothing on my own any more. In view of this I spent time sitting back and chilling learning to slow down and listen to the world around me. I found stillness in the quiet place and after I had sat still for a couple of days I begun to hear the birds chirping, the crickets creaking, the children laughing in school and many other things. It is strange…no surreal; to be in a place all by myself and be so at peace and in tune with nature…I must admit I am still developing that part. In the middle of this I turned back to Jehovah and asked him to speak to me and show me the way. His answer was strange ever so strange. He said, “You are standing in the way of your own destiny…you know what I have been asking you to do. Do it and then come back.” Only a father can say that to a child and it was the reality for me.
What I needed to do was hard and heartrending but seeing that I had no other way out I did what he had asked me to do and it was amazing. I can say that everyday from then a new step has been revealed and I am back to a place I cannot remember being for a while now. I love this place and realise that my destiny and peace in my life is pegged on my ability to listen and obey. I cannot say it is easy to follow everyday but the benefits and peace that comes with it makes I worth it. I love Jehovah and will do all I can to stay close to him
Just today I was reminded that the only way to be all I am called to be I must make obedience a lifestyle. So often we talk about the lifestyle of worship and never of obedience. My life has changed and I am free.