“Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” I bet if someone had asked you that question in 2016 you would not have answered “Living through a series of historical events in an ‘unprecedented time’ that will change the face of our daily life and culture.” But in the blink of an eye, our world completely changed, and we have been searching for the new normal ever since. Though this pandemic has been a world-wide issue, there are events that occur in each of our lives that we are unprepared for, and suddenly things are completely different.
A little over eleven years ago I went through a situation that rocked my world. It was my own personal unprecedented time. A seemingly normal Saturday morning in September was completely overturned in a matter of moments when I came to the knowledge that my Dad, who by his own choice, had left this world. My world was completely broken. I don’t think I will ever be able to accurately describe how I felt at that moment as I sat in my driveway learning what I feared was true. That one moment ushered in a world of hopelessness and grief.
I can remember in the days and weeks following, waking up after a long night’s sleep, and for a few brief moments forgetting the reality that awaited me. Then, the moment I remembered my circumstance, sorrow would wash over me like a wave, knocking the breath out of me. There were times I didn’t even want to get out of bed and face the world. The pain I felt, and occasionally still feel at times, was indescribable.
I know that some of you might have also experienced this type of pain and grief, maybe due to the current pandemic, racial injustice, or even loss of relationships. Some of you right now are dealing with a wayward child, an unjust boss, an addiction, a job loss, the death of a loved one, or maybe something else entirely. We all have times in our lives where we are fleeing or fighting, where our lives seem to have fallen apart and all we seem to hear is bad news. We all have times where we feel, or are maybe even told, that our situation is beyond help. We might wonder at times, where God is in this particular trial, or we doubt that He is willing to turn it all around.
As we look into the stories of the Bible, we find that we aren’t the only ones that have felt these things. King David, for example, experienced many of these trials in his life. He was anointed King, but had to wait years before it came to pass; King Saul tried to have him killed. He lost his best friend, committed adultery, murdered Bathsheba’s husband, and experienced the loss of more than one child. He saw conflict and strife in his family. If any one could understand grief, sorrow, tragedy, and guilt, it was King David.
At the time Psalm 3 was written, King David was fleeing Jerusalem from his son Absalom. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Absalom had gone to Hebron under the pretense of making a sacrifice to the Lord, and had declared himself King of Israel. Instead of fighting Absalom, King David fled to safety. Imagine King David at this moment: his son was after his throne and had declared himself King, and no doubt would have killed David if he had gotten in his way. David knew that it was very probable that one of them would die. He grieved for his son’s rebellion and safety, while wondering if he, himself, would live or die. His countenance was downcast and discouraged.
“Oh LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud unto the LORD and He answered me from His holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3: 1-4)
King David finishes this Psalm with a victorious decree. He knows his future alone rests in God. God gives us our salvation, not man; we find hope in knowing that He is able to defeat our enemies, and is able to give us joy in the midst of sorrow.
Grief, though trying as it is, can draw us nearer to God and allow us to experience His joy. It can drive us to a place where the only way to look is up at Him. King David is able to be at peace and rest because he knows, despite what people are saying, despite the outcome, that God is in control. Whether we understand it or not, God is working things out for the good for those that love Him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I know for me personally that it was my choice to look to God, and not the situation, that got me out of bed some days. My constant decree that God has a plan for my life and would see me through this tragedy is what kept me functioning. I don’t understand it all, I can’t make sense of it all, but my firm belief that God could and would use anything and everything for His good, and to further His kingdom is what strengthened my faith in Him. Instead of turning my back and accepting defeat, I allowed God to lift my head. He gave me joy despite my sorrow. He gave me rest in turmoil. He gave me hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation.
This pandemic, and the unprecedented time in which we are all living, and even your personal struggles have not surprised God. It hasn’t caught Him off guard. He is not trying to figure out what to do next. He is not looking at our situation and saying, “You are going to have to figure it out, I’ve got too much to do, I don’t have time for this.” But, we have to stop looking at the world for our answers and listening to the voices that discourage us. We have to stand on what God says and put our hope, trust, and faith in Him. We have to let God be the lifter of our head, and speak peace into our lives. The enemy roams the earth to and fro seeking whom he can devour. But the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. If our hearts are right, and we look to Him, He will strengthen us. No matter the circumstances you are facing today, know that God is ready and able to give you joy in the midst of sorrow, to give you peace in your trials, and encourage you in your struggles. Lift your head to Him, keep your eyes on Him, and drown out the distractions of the world.
Stephanie has been involved in ministry support and leadership for over 17 years in various roles and areas including administration, production, worship, women’s ministry and pastoral care. For the last 8 years she has served as the Director of Communications for Destiny Ministries and as Destiny Leadership Institute administrative support. Stephanie and her husband, Roger, will celebrate 20 years of marriage this coming June. Roger and Stephanie are both Destiny Ordained Ministers and DLI Graduates. They have three daughters: Selah (15), Zoe (13), and Hallie (10). The Powers Family currently resides in Searcy, Arkansas, where they are in the early stages of planting a church.