Written by Carol Beaver, Church Advocate, Legacy Coalition
COVID-19 is still with us and impacting everyday life for every generation. Its impact has been far more pervasive than we could have imagined in those early days. We heard about this new virus and hoped it would not come to America, then suddenly it was here. Quarantine began in areas that were hit hard, and quickly spread across the country. With each new order, we added two or three more weeks.
COVID-19 turned our world upside down and began a drastic and unwelcome change in our country. It was not just a virus that made us sick; it took lives and livelihoods. Panic and fear arose in many hearts. From getting groceries to getting haircuts, from popping into Target to curbside pick-up, many everyday tasks became more complicated. Panic and fear dominated a culture that struggled to cope with changing realities and restrictions.
As a long-time public-school educator and a grandmother, I view COVID-19 and its impact through those lenses. So many families have been impacted by all that has barrel-rolled us in the last year. Children’s education changed overnight. In March, our grandchildren were going to be out of school for a bit; then that turned into a while; then that turned into months. Seniors lost their proms, graduation ceremonies, and traditional celebrations. Then they went off to college virtually, some from their new campus and some from home.
As Christian grandparents in this time, we stepped up to do everything we could. We watched our grands so their parents could keep their jobs. Some became the home teacher or monitor and coach for virtual learning. We stepped up as necessary to support our children and grandchildren when the jobs disappeared, because that is what love does. We patiently helped our grandchildren learn math in a whole new way that seemed like a foreign language and tried to remember where they needed to put the commas in their writing.
These things we did out of love and concern for our families, but it took its toll. We became weary and a bit worn. Some of us continued working ourselves out of economic necessity and still tried to help our children and our grandchildren.
As Christian grandparents, we did what needed to be done. However, we need to pause and consider how we are doing on building that beautiful legacy we leave one day. Living out our faith and being an example against this troubling backdrop needs to be a priority. The best advice can be found in God’s words in Nehemiah 8:10 where he said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nothing feels joyful about this situation, and no real end is in sight, despite vaccination programs that are stumbling though the first weeks. Yet, repeatedly in Scripture we find the admonition to seek joy, to be joyful, and to count it all joy even in the midst of troubling times.
Beginning with a prayer to get our perspective right, here are some thoughts about how we can, through surrender and discipline, find some joy. By being alert to little things that make your lips turn up or your eyes light up, you can focus on that and recognize it as a small moment of joy.
Find your joy in Him and His eternal work.
When you find yourself struggling with this, guard your thoughts and words, both spoken and written. Too much focus on all that is wrong will zap your energy and tear you down. It takes discipline to stop yourself from going on and on. Turn you focus on God and begin to praise, speak words of worship, sing songs of worship, find uplifting Scripture and meditate on it.
Today’s problems loom large in our eyes, but they are temporary in terms of eternity.
When you begin to find joy in Him and revel in His unfailing love, you feel your heart growing lighter, yet stronger. The joy of the Lord cannot be lost by a true child of God, but sometimes the cares and stresses of the world, including COVID, cause us to feel like we are falling into a dark place. God follows us there and shines His light into that darkness. He begs us turn and find the joy He alone can give.
Expend the little energy you have in looking for small joys.
A smile, a thank you, a sunbeam, a laughing child, a kindness given or received… no matter how small the joy, it is a window to see more and be thankful. Gratitude and joy are intricately linked.
Make a choice; choose JOY!!