I don’t know about you, but over these past few months, I’ve often found myself very angry. Part of it has been anger over things happening in the lives of some of our family members. But much of it has been anger over the coronavirus that is taking so much from so many of us. And anger over how badly I think our leaders have responded to the virus. Although my life has spanned a number of world-consequential events, like most of us, I never expected to be living through a cataclysm such as this pandemic, and it seems that no one really knows what to do.
Much of my anger, however, has been because of my own situation. Earlier this year, I decided to retire on July 1. As I put those plans in motion, I knew I would need a part-time job to make it work. But the prospect of my getting a job that would allow us to pretty much maintain our standard of living looked reasonably good – until the virus struck, that is. With unemployment now at near Great Depression levels, that prospect looks pretty bleak. I’m in the process of developing a freelance business, but it will take time to get it up and running and making money – if I’m even able to get it to that point. So . . . what to do?
Until recently, what I’ve been doing is wallowing in a good bit of self-pity and worry. But, thankfully, God has been steering my heart away from worrying about what I don’t have – and what I can’t change – and moving it toward what I do have and all that I should be grateful for. He has shamed me into realizing how sinful and wrong my ingratitude and despair really are. And He has helped me begin to truly appreciate all that is still good in my life and in the lives of those I love.
There’s little I can do about the coronavirus – other than be as responsible as I can in how I interact with others. Nor can I control or change how our leaders – both federal and state – have responded to it. But with God’s help, I can change and control my reaction to it. I can focus on the good in my life and in the lives of others. I can look for humor and share it with family and friends. I can appreciate the benefits of working from home and developing the discipline I’ll need when I get my own business going. And, most important, I can pray for those who are experiencing real grief and pain because of this pandemic.
So much has changed in our world since the beginning of 2020. But God is still the same – yesterday, today, and forever – and He is still in control. As uncertainty continues to dog our days, as life as we knew it recedes into a distant memory, and as we embrace a new “normal” that looks very different from the normal we knew, God’s sovereign control – over our lives and in the world – is the one certainty we can rely on. Knowing that, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, we can keep “living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time . . . trusting that He will make all things right.”
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
–Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)