What are the difficulties/dangers we might face and what might the benefits be? How can we survive this period and how can we grow in our walk with God?
- Anxiety – I’m sure like me, even a couple of weeks ago, you couldn’t have imagined this situation. It was something happening to those in China and Italy, it wouldn’t really happen here. But now it’s here and maybe you are anxious about catching COVID 19, maybe you are anxious about loved ones catching it or maybe about exams and your future.
- Strained relationships – whole families being confined to the house for a long period of time with no normal routine is a massive strain on family relationships that are often already tricky for teenagers or young adults and their parents.
- Loss of freedom – for teenagers and young adults the loss of our usual freedoms is difficult to handle. A couple of weeks ago you were being encouraged to be independent and to start to make your own way in life but much of that is gone.
- Selfishness – at a time like this it is so easy to worry about ‘how this will impact me’ and get lost in our own worries.
- Retreating online – it may be tempting to retreat to the online world in order to escape the day to day realities of what is going on, and then to miss out on the good things that can come out of this situation.
When facing all or some of these issues the first thing that we must remember is that God is sovereign. The world may feel as if it is spinning out of control but it isn’t. God will continue to work his purposes through this. As individuals, we should each ask what God wants us to do in our lives right now.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 [NIV]
- Time – many of us are faced with a situation where we now have much more spare time than we are used to. Are there unfinished projects you can get on with or books that you have been meaning to read for ages? Get on and do it – you may never have this much time on your hands again!
- Relationships – we have mentioned about how relationships can be strained in this situation but there is huge potential for building (or rebuilding) relationships. Spending time together as a family may be something you haven’t had much time for in recent years. Take this time to eat together, watch TV together, go for a walk together or play a board game, and if you are all Christians read the Bible and pray together. It may feel odd at first but persevere and it will soon feel normal.
- True freedom in Christ – freedom is not about being an individual or being independent but about serving God where He has put us and right now, for most of us, that is at home with our families.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Galatians 5:13-15 [NIV]
- Learn to be selfless – one of the keys to this situation is to think of others and to put them first. This is what is likely to make your time together a positive experience rather than a negative one.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:1-4 [NIV]
- The internet is a huge benefit in these times helping us to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Spend time reading positive things online, use it to pray with Christian friends or read the Bible together. Access online services to stay connected to your Church family.
Lastly I think that the biggest thing we will all have to learn in this and the thing which will have the biggest lasting impact on our lives is forgiveness. Stuck in a house together there is gong to need to be lots of forgiveness going on! We will see the worst coming out in those around us, as well as in ourselves. As we remember just how much God has forgiven us then we should be willing to forgive those around us!
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 [NIV]
A prayer for us all:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]