Are You in the Dark?
When obstacles block your way of daily life where do you turn? Sometimes life can be dark and dismal as problems get in our way. Sometimes fear and anxiety can even immobilize us even when we only imagine issues on the horizon. How do we combat the darkness that crosses our life path? Where do we turn? How do we find our way in the dark and avoid tripping over the obstacles around us?
Sunday began Suicide Prevention Week which continues through Saturday. This is part of the annual National Suicide Prevention Month. Many people in the world have experienced unusual and dramatic stress from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For some, there is fear and anxiety about the disease that creates overwhelming and strong emotions in both adults and children. On top of that, public health actions such as social distancing create feelings of isolation and loneliness. For many, this increases stress and anxiety even though these measures help reduce the spread of the COVID-19.
There is now mounting evidence that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic is creating startling psychological and social effects that may continue not just in the immediate but for years to come. If the obstacle of the disease itself isn’t enough it is further compounded by offsets of the disease such as distress, depression, and insomnia. Social isolation, anxiety, uncertainty, and economic difficulties may lead to the development or extension of depressive issues, anxiety, substance use, and other psychiatric disorders according to the Oxford Journal of Medicine. (Sher, 2020)
Coping with Obstacles
All this is to say, that the state of mental health is taking a collective toll amid the pandemic. And along with tens of thousands of deaths happening across the world, the virus is causing economic struggles with businesses closing and major events being postponed or canceled. These stressors that continue with no end in sight have caused suicide reports to surface around the globe and with increased calls across the United States. These enormous obstacles in these dark times created by this virus are taking a startling toll on people from all walks of life. This is why it is important to cope with stress in a healthy way that makes not only us but the people we care about and our community stronger.
One such way to get around or over obstacles is to look for the light. During dark times, whether literal or figurative, a light source can help us see the things that are always with us and move around the obstacles that stand in our way. When we have a source of light, we can see things from a different angle. A light like that can remind us of God. He always knows our future and can shine His light on the parts of us that we may not even be aware of. When life gets dark and obstacles of life get in our way it can be important to ask and remind ourselves, what do we know of God, the ultimate source of light?
Need Immediate Coping Help?
Please understand, however, I am not offering professional or medical advice on the issue of mental health and or suicide. If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, seek help immediately! I greatly encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1–800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to their website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ I also encourage anyone who may know of someone that is suffering emotionally or considering suicide to help them seek help now. Know that God sees you and anyone you may know, where you are and as you are. He loves you beyond anything you can imagine.
Looking to the Past for Hope
Do you think God is with us all the time, even when enormous obstacles stand in our paths? One way to answer that question is to look to the past. It is here, in the past recorded history and personal experiences that we see that God is with us. He goes both before us and behind us. Whether we feel we have personal experiences with a God deliverance or not, we can see historical evidence of God’s power throughout the Bible. But let’s look in particular to the Israelites in the book of Exodus.
Jumping ahead in the story to Chapter 14 we find the Israelites facing a huge obstacle as they reach the Red Sea. They knew by this point that God was with them or they wouldn’t have reached this far. Furthermore, they knew that He led them through the fire and the cloud they could visually see. However, that didn’t stop their fear, and dare I say, anxiety, as they reached what appeared a dead end with no way to turn, for the Egyptian army was quickly pursuing them and the waters of the sea faced them. Yet, God delivered them through the sea, and it is through this lesson that we know He can deliver us through our obstacles too!
God is with us even when we face great obstacles and daily impossibilities of living in this fallen world. He is with us when we feel Him and when we don’t. And like the Israelites, God is with us whether we are knee-deep in mud or dancing on the dry ground. God is our hope when there seems to be no hope. And He will continue to be our hope as we move forward even when giving up seems more logical.
The Same – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
God is the God of yesterday and He remains the God of tomorrow no matter the wildness of life. (Hebrews 13:8) For we must remember that even when we stand amazed at what God accomplishes, our journey is not finished. And like the Israelites, we remain in the wilderness as the journey continues. No matter how focused we may be or secure we feel our goal setting is, we remain in the wilderness where anything can happen at any given moment. But God remains steadfastly with us. He has revealed His power through mighty miracles in the past and persists even in today’s world for those with hearts that see. Furthermore, He promises to continue to reveal His power in the future. It is His great power that is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and it is that power that is available to help each of us with our daily problems no matter how great or small.
“The Lord will reign forever and ever!”Exodus 15:18 (NLT)
When we feel weak and limited let us draw upon our faith, and instead of despair remember that God can give us strength. It begins with getting to know Him better so we can understand His power. Reading the Bible and understanding history is great but it is only by spending time with God personally that we can come to know Him. For it is through this that we strive to really know Him and not just know about Him. Through studying the life of Christ in the gospels we can see what He was like on earth and we can get to know Him better through prayer now. It is with this personal knowledge of Christ that our life will change.
3 Lessons When Facing Obstacles
There are 3 lessons to learn from the Israelites about facing obstacles.
1. Remain Calm (Exodus 14:14) – The God of yesterday is the God of today and will be the God of tomorrow. The same power that controls creation and raises the dead is available to you for there is nothing too difficult for God and His great power.
2. Keep Moving (Exodus 14:15)– Once your faith is secured through remembrance and prayer you must keep moving forward. When large obstacles are in front of you, shine the light on them, and move forward with determination.
3. Celebrate His Presence (Exodus 15) – Once you are on the other side of the obstacle, praise Him that helped you see your way around it or through it. Pack it away in your memory for the future when you need it to remain calm in the next crisis with the next obstacle.
Won’t you challenge yourself to remain calm when facing obstacles in your life? Find your convictions in knowing that your God controls all of creation and knows what is best. Allow this knowledge to keep you moving forward with a full motivation knowing you will get through whatever obstacles are placed in your path, for as a believer, you hold an eternal future with Christ no matter what happens on earth. Surround yourself in the comfort of celebration and memory of knowing that He is with you always and forever.
Love in Christ,
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called – His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)
What are your thoughts?
Do you find it difficult to move forward when obstacles block your life path? Have you drawn upon the light of God to help you navigate around problems in life? Share your thoughts on the need to draw upon the light of your faith and knowledge that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow when obstacles fall in your way.
Credits Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 1). Your Health - Coping with Stress - Pandemics can be Stressful. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html Dunmore, R. (2020, March 31). Coronavirus-Related Sudicides Surface Amid increased Anxiety. Retrieved from Newsone: https://newsone.com/3921332/coronavirus-related-suicides-amid-anxiety/ Sher, L. (2020, June 30). The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Suicide Rates. Retrieved from Oxford Journal of Medicine: https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/advance-article/doi/10.1093/qjmed/hcaa202/5857612