When we pause, we have opportunity to reflect. We get some distance from daily life as we know it, and with it some perspective.
COVID provided a pause to our daily lives. Even though we continued with language, albeit less hours than normal, most everything else paused: church activities, school runs, playdates, coffee dates. That pause provided perspective on life and I had many mixed emotions.
On one hand, while it seemed most of my friends back in the West were really grieving the loss of life as they knew it, I realized just how much we lacked living here. COVID highlighted the things we haven’t had for two years and so when it was “taken” away, I really didn’t miss them any more than normal.
On the other hand, being confined to our home actually felt like reprieve. I didn’t have to face difficult relationships or interact in another language and be awkward. I was actually able to control our schedule.
When everyone else longed for life to go back to normal, I dreaded it. I was sure going back to normal would mean life continuing to be hard. I was genuinely tempted to hopelessness and many tears ensued.
Lord, how my foes increase!
There are many who attack me.
Many say about me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah
I was conflicted about life here, felt like I could give it up in a heartbeat. I could see how if I wasn’t careful bitterness would fill my heart.
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
4 I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah
But God. He is at work in the pause. He wanted me to have perspective on my life so I could also see him more clearly. I felt helpless and hopeless but I have a keeper who delights to be my help and my hope (Psalm 146: 5). He heard my cry for mercy… not only by changing my circumstances but by strengthening my soul.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of thousands of people
who have taken their stand against me on every side.
7 Rise up, Lord!
Save me, my God!
You strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
may your blessing be on your people. Selah
I can lie down and stay and trust the Lord for the life I know here. I can face it because the Lord sustains me. I might hear lots of voices – both inside my head and outside – trying to get me to doubt, to give up, to turn around. But I will not be afraid.
Christ is not only my shield… but a shield around me. I am inside him. So safe, so protected. He saves me because I am his (Psalm 119:94). He is a shield that fights for his own. Like the psalmist, I can say, “You fight for me, you defeat those who hate you. From him alone comes my confidence.”
The Lord was at work not only in my soul but also in a few other ways during this pause. My language improved significantly. When it was time to re-enter the local community, I was more empowered than before. Not only that, other good changes happened in our community. He has deepened love between us.
I dreaded the future. I didn’t want life to go back to normal because normal was hard. But the Lord so graciously improved our normal. That doesn’t mean there are no hard things left. Or that temptations are gone. Or that I don’t have significant questions and reservations about particular ministries in our lives.
But this I know: salvation belongs to the Lord. To my Father. And his blessing is on his people through Christ.
He interrupted our daily life but only to continue working. There is no pause in his saving work, nor on his steadfast, saving love for us. It always continues.
I don’t know what salvation will look like specifically for us and the people we serve here. But I have no doubt the Lord is our salvation. He is our glory. The lifter of our head. We will not be ashamed for putting our hope in him.
How has God worked for good in the pauses in your life?