Rev. Barbara Samuel
FROM PANDEMIC TO PEACE
Right now, as a pandemic continues to sweep the earth, with new findings of Omicron, another variation of COVID, we all continue to find ourselves living unexpectedly in a most unusual season yet again. I’m certain this plan was in none of our dreams, goals, or projections for our shared future together!
The question I hear the most often is, “When is this going to end?” “When is enough, enough?” There is so much uncertainty around this global crisis, and that uncertainty is stressful! As much as we want facts, a clear sense of right and wrong, an action plan, and dependable timelines, things seem to be changing on a daily basis, requiring us to adjust, recalculate and adjust again…and again.
I don’t know about you, but in all this uncertainty, there are times when I have started to feel powerless. Here’s what I mean. I begin to feel powerless when I am told what I can and cannot do. Let me tell you, a sense of powerlessness – if left unattended -- can spread quickly like a wild fire. We feel powerless because it may appear there is no-thing we can do to fix it.
While the sense of powerlessness may appear real, the danger lies in it when we begin to take it on and allow it to start defining our reality, that is the true culprit. When we take on powerlessness, we make an agreement with fear and embrace the identity of a victim, and this victim who needs something or somebody to blame. A bad guy. We choose to believe that something outside of us—the government, the economy, or our neighbor—is a threat we must fight against.
I see many people are falling prey to this victim mentality right now. This month, our Province of British Columbia is experiencing unprecedented flooding and mudslides where lives, homes, livestock, everything lost. I am witnessing fear-based behaviors manifest all around us by means of hoarding, blame, accusation, and angry fights over who is to blame and who is right, and who is wrong. I have seen close friends step outside of the quality of love just to take up the fight against their perceived “bad guy.”
Yet in uncertainty and chaos also lies an opportunity. As Ernest Holmes says, “I live in the faith that there is a Presence and Power greater than I am, that nurtures and supports me in ways I could not even imagine”.
I believe these perceived problems, challenges or “bad guys” attitude we are having could have hidden opportunities. Hear me….. as our external support structures are tested, we have an opportunity for any sense of false security to be exposed and for our hearts to get more fully connected to an internal source of power that anchors us to peace even as chaos swirls around us.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. This invites us to consider what kind of peace Jesus demonstrated and how it is different from the peace the world gives.
Most of us define peace as an absence of war or chaos. This means that our internal peace is determined by our measure of external peace. When we are prospering and healthy, when there are no challenges and no suffering, then we can be at peace. Yet, as we are seeing so clearly in this season, the externals of this world cannot guarantee true security, and therefore cannot provide enduring peace. They are outside of our personal control and constantly changing. It is a good time to examine whether we have attached our sense of peace to anything external. If our peace has been shaken in this season, then that is a good indication that we have!
Friends, first thing we must recognize and realize is that we have a choice. Jesus said to his disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Loosely translated, it means, “Don not yield to fear.” We are not powerless over the state of our hearts, no matter the circumstance.
Second, we need to look at our behavior. This is usually what alerts us that we are choosing to allow fear to steal our peace and take us out of that state of undisturbed well-being. We must stop and ask, “Am I acting like a powerless victim? Am I looking for someone or something to blame? Am I taking out feelings of anger and fear on others or looking for comfort in unhealthy ways?”
Lastly, we must shift our focus. In other words, our consciousness. In seasons of challenge or uncertainty, the temptation is to get our thoughts off God and onto the thing that is troubling us. Shifting our focus to our circumstances is what opens the door for us to become more convinced of the power of something to cause fear, rather than God’s love. We can close that door by shifting our attention and focus off the thing that is troubling us and back onto the Divine! Re-anchor our hearts in the reality that God is bigger than our circumstances and that we are held safely in the hands of grace.
In this unexpected season, let’s grab hold of this unexpected opportunity to access Jesus’ promise of peace like never before. The power of peace we find in this season will be the power we need to face the days to come together, in community, in love and with and abundance of heart.
Feel my love as I recognize you, I treasure you, I adore you, and I value you!
Always, Reverend Barbara Samuel