Fellow Corona Virus Navigator,
In an earlier edition we showed a picture of our boat radar feed which enabled us to “thread the needle” between huge storms at sea, illustrating that “Navigation Makes a Difference.” So it is with our latest storms of American life — RESILIENCE helps us navigate the “social distancing,” the widespread fear, the shortage of basic supplies, the closure of schools, businesses, and churches; the economic decimation, and potentially illness or death due to the Corona Virus. Yes, resilience is a critical life skill, particularly during these “Days of Trouble” we find ourselves in.
Last week I provided an inspiring video showing Jason & Julie Farino’s journey through cancer together. Prayerfully, we were all instructed by their example of worship and gratitude, despite the excruciation of cancer and the potential of death. They became true “Profiles in Resilience” as they mobilized worship to defeat fear. I praise God for their example to so many.
I’m sure you can guess that this week’s blog is about the same thing. Given the events of this past week alone, the prevailing sentiment is FEAR about the “perfect storm” we face as individuals, and as a nation. You may recall that the DURING phase of the Resilience Life Cycle is “Weathering the Storm.” In essence, how do we “Hide under the shelter of God’s Wings until the destruction passes by?” (Psalm 57:2) I look forward to your comments about gaining spiritual and mental altitude to gain perspective and courageously staring down fear.
May we all discover the silver lining of the current “pause” in which we find ourselves, pressing into God and the issues of life that are truly important.
Respectfully in Christ,
PS- As a reminder, our Resilience God Style Newsletters website page has an archive of all past RGS newsletter content for your future reference, or for you to share with others.
PPS- In Resilience Resources I highlight the RGS Training Game again — a fun activity with a purpose while you “shelter at home.”
“This awareness [of the greatness of God] allows us
to gain mental and spiritual height and perspective
– it allows faith to rise and fear to diminish.”
With Height Comes Perspective
by Bob Dees
Tribulation comes in all forms. I often say the bookends of tribulation resemble a hurricane or a tornado. At present in America, we have both. The Corona Virus (CV) hurricane is pushing destruction to the shores of America, combined with the shocking tornado of rapidly dropping financial markets. This double whammy has resulted in a designation of a pandemic, a declaration of national emergency, a fearful populace, stringent measures such as closing schools, businesses, and churches; and the mantra of the day – “social distancing.” The result is a cataclysmic vortex which threatens our national wealth and our personal health, a scenario which few living Americans (or citizens of other nations) have experienced in their lifetimes.
I have seen many excellent articles, blogs, newscasts which assess the alarming growth curve of the virus and the worsening economic conditions in our nation and the world. Our leaders are waging war, mobilizing every resource possible, on our behalf. There are also many who have provided powerful Biblical encouragement. This blog, with the associated picture of a businessman overlooking the city below, will simply remind us
With Height Comes Perspective
The HEIGHT we seek comes from seeking Biblical truth about the tribulations we face. In times of travail and faint heartedness (lack of courage), David sought height and perspective from God: “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). Similarly, the prophet Isaiah voiced a declaration from God: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
The PERSPECTIVE we seek relates to FEAR and to FAITH.
Regarding FEAR — Let’s be honest that we are all fearful about the unseen but deadly Corona Virus, and to varying degrees fearful about the impacts of the related economic collapse. As a military man, businessman, and father who has navigated many daunting and fearful crises, I remind myself and others that courage is not the absence of fear. Rather COURAGE is staring down fear. Courage is the ability to overcome fear to navigate a challenging storm, honorably to the best of your ability. Courage ranges across the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and relational domains (see Resilient Leaders). The question then is how to courageously overcome fear in the first days, weeks, and months of the “perfect storm” in which we find ourselves.
Fear is clearly a common emotion. I am told the Bible contains 365 “Fear Not” passages. Jesus addressed fear numerous times. The storm on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8:23-27 is instructive – in short, the boat was being overwhelmed by waves and the disciples feared for their very lives – “Save us, O Lord, we are perishing!” Jesus woke from his sleep and admonished the disciples: “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then Jesus stilled the wind and the sea.
From this we are instructed not to focus on fear. We must FOCUS on faith. We know that Jesus said “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In fact, the simple equation is
FEAR + FAITH = COURAGE
The real problem was not big waves, rather little faith. This storm story concludes with “The men were amazed and said, ‘What kind of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey Him?’” We see that these men’s limited view of Jesus and God exploded when they saw His actual power over the forces of nature. The reality is that fear diminishes as faith rises. Our faith rises when we recognize the grandeur, sovereignty, sufficiency, and greatness of the object of our faith, our Heavenly Father and the Son He sent to save us.
Regarding FAITH, let’s look at a time of great trial in the Bible, not unlike the conditions we face today. The Prophet Isaiah provides a spiritual template for navigating a crisis. First, he reminds us to gain altitude to gain perspective. Then, mightily declare faith against fear, declare the greatness of God which is far greater than any earthly challenges we face:
“Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;
Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’”
To press this point home, Isaiah then provides many illustrations of God’s greatness which allow our faith to rise while fear diminishes. For instance, here is Isaiah 40:12 which shows the unimaginable greatness of God:
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?”
For a moment, consider the terms “measured the waters in the hollow of His hand” and “marked off the heavens by the span (of His hand).” Pastor Tim Delano from Times Square Church in New York City provides powerful insights from the Jewish culture. The “hollow of the hand” is the small basin in the open palm. This provides a glimpse into the magnitude of God when one considers that two thirds of the earth’s surface is ocean, and add to that rivers and lakes. The amount of water is incalculable in human terms, yet God holds it in the hollow of His hand. This awareness allows us to gain mental and spiritual height and perspective – it allows faith to rise and fear to diminish.
In similar Jewish terms, the “span of the hand” is the distance from the tip of the “pinkie” finger to the top of the thumb. Now consider that the nearest star beyond the Sun in the heavens is 26 trillion miles away, yet God “marked off the heavens by the span” of His hand. This likewise is amazing, just as the disciples were amazed when Jesus stilled the storm. This awareness likewise allows us to gain mental and spiritual height and perspective – it allows faith to rise and fear to diminish.
Now, let’s get relevant and real. Last week’s newsletter highlighted a video by a young couple stricken with cancer, Jason & Julie Farino. We saw them navigate an existential crisis in their lives through the power of worship. As exhorted by Isaiah, they “lifted their voices mightily,” they chose faith over fear, and they declared “Here is my God”— a Great, Protective, Almighty, Sovereign, All Knowing, All Powerful, All Present, Loving, and Merciful God – that’s my GOD!
This is a great example to all of us – WORSHIP is our Weapon to fight fear, to let faith arise. As a practical tip, as you seek to worship through the Corona Virus hurricane and through the economic tornado, hold your open hands up to praise your majestic God. When you do, consider the hollow of your hand, and remember God’s greatness, holding the oceans. When you do, consider the span of your hand and remember God’s greatness, measuring the heavens. Most of all, know that this great God also holds you in the palm of His hand, and He knows all about your fears, your fragility, and your faith. We do well to follow Peter’s exhortation, “casting all your anxiety (fears) on Him, because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)
In summary — With height comes perspective… fear + faith = courage … worship is our weapon to let faith arise and fear to diminish.
As Jesus said,
“In the world we will have tribulation,
But take COURAGE, I have overcome the world.”
Respectfully in Christ,
So what about YOU?
Is FEAR getting the best of you?
If so, what specific steps can you take to “Stare down Fear?”
What are the “silver linings” of this CV crisis in YOUR life?
Share with us in COMMENTS below.
Here’s a Resilience God Style Training Game Question that will help us navigate the challenges of Corona Virus and beyond:
I would add — Don’t get taken hostage by the 24 hour news cycle that is wall to wall gloom and doom about CV, Economy, et al. Ration your intake of news to select times. You don’t have to watch every Corona Virus TF press briefing!
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From the Mailbox
“We have to really focus on the day to day.
The grace that we have available today.
It is God’s good pleasure to watch us bounce back,
To help us bounce back.
He does it before we even realize it is happening.”
~Julie Farino, quote from last week’s video