Updated: Oct 22, 2020
If you've lived for longer than five minutes, chances are you're aware that living comes with its own challenges. This is, even more, the care during this season of stay at home orders and social distancing. Whether you agree with the method of our society's attempt to flatten the curve of the coronavirus or not, one thing that the majority of us can agree upon is that social distancing has come with some unique challenges.
I know some people who are adapting to being literally alone in their apartments and others who are growing in staying with their multiple family members all day. Some may struggle with too much engagement in a confined space while others are wondering when they'll feel the embrace of a loved one again.
These are hard times for most. For anyone accustomed to reading the bible, it can be sobering to find ourselves relating to these biblical characters in an alarmingly real way. National heroes on the run from their own Kings and people they swore to serve, countries being taken over by foreign powerhouses over and over again, and the sick and lame literally being outcasted from their communities. Hard times aren't a new thing for humanity - it only takes on different appearances throughout history.
Even Jesus tells us, "in this world, you will have trouble. But, take heart for I have overcome the world." He warns his disciples that they would still have hardship and many of them more so because of their faithfulness to Him. However, His promise was that He is greater than those problems and all although painful, they are momentary and that through him and by the Holy Spirit we would as overcome as he did. Whether in this life or the next.
Below, is a list of 5 Practical Ways for Christians to Stay Connected to God in Hard Times. I also created a Youtube video covering this same topic - you'll find the video here. My prayer is that this helps you not only during quarantine but any hard time to remember that it is our connection to the Most Holy, Powerful and Good Source - Our One and Living God that allows us to get through these hard and difficult times. It's okay to feel and hurt as God can handle and heal our brokenness.
1) Have a Consistent Time and Plan Scheduled
Have you ever heard of the phrase, " prior preparation prevents poor performance?" My husband says it all the time and it used to really irk me. Until I started to realize the truth behind it. If I did my best to prepare for what I set before me I do a much better job at reaching my goals. Now, don't misunderstand what I'm saying. This is by no means meant to insinuate that our time with God is a performance or that we can in any way "twist God's arm into getting our way". How I interpret it in relation to my faith in Christ is that I need to do whatever I can to put me in the best position to grow in my faith recognizing that God is Sovereign (In Control) and Omnipotent (All-Powerful) - I'm not. That He's given His Holy Spirit to me and to all those who believe in His Son Jesus and that it's that power that is going to grow and allow me to seek Him in a way that brings genuine Glory to His Name.
Choose one time each day that you can set apart to spend at least 15 minutes with God.
Establish a plan of what you're going to do during that time. Will you worship, pray, and/or read the bible? (Check out my Free E-Book that contains more tips and worksheets to help you strategize)
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 | NIV
2) Wake up early to Seek God
"And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." Mark 1: 35;"
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
Scripture tells us that it was a habit of Jesus to wake up early before everyone else to spend alone time with the Father. I think its important to remember that context is always key. In Matthew 6: 33 the reference is to prioritizing time with God over everything else and not solely the time of day. However, I've found that for me when I wake up before everyone else in my home it allows me to focus on God in a way that I wouldn't have if I had already started my daily routine and my attention was divided. This doesn't mean your time with God has to be spent in the morning - of course, the goal is to get to a place where we are aware of God's presence with us throughout the day and simultaneously able to devout time apart for Him alone.
Figure out what time you would need to wake up in order to seek God before your daily routine starts
Try it our for a day
Adjust the time as needed
3) Get & Stay Connected to a Small Group of Christians
"not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:25
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16
If you've read the bible, something you may notice is an emphasis on community and living life with others. God created us as communal beings who enjoy communing with each other - most of the time. But, I think this is even more apparent in the body of Christ, believers. In Acts, we find that the early church was always together and looking out for one another. Having a group of Christians that you can grow deeper in faith with and foster relationships with is one sign of a healthy Christian.
So, whether you are reading this during a season of social distancing or a time when you feel alone and distant from God - I highly encourage you to find at least one fellow believer in Christ and begin to connect with them through what's going on in your life and through the word of God. In this way, we encourage one another and remind each other of our true identities as daughters and sons of God.
Find a biblically sound Church who has small groups or a way of connecting you to other Christians
Join a virtual or in-person small group
Ask for prayer from a Church staff or Deacons
4) Say no to the Flesh!
Denying our flesh is much easier said than done. But the bible calls us to do it all the same. Contrary to popular belief I don't believe this is to torture Christians or in any way to deprive us of life's greatest pleasures. I believe that the truth lies in Christ. That when we Jesus' temptation in the wilderness after His 40 days and nights fast, He demonstrates a much higher and richer reality to us than what we could ever imagine. That God satisfies us more than anything on Earth and that things that bring our flesh pleasure really pale in comparison to His Presence and Word.
It's so important that when we're tempted to sin and do the opposite of God's standard that has the power say no. The most humbling moments come when a person realizes that they don't have the power to say no to what they know is wrong - at least no forever. But that power comes from the All Power God. As we read His word, One, we're reminded of His Strength in the midst of our weakness and it pushed us to cry out to Him - "Abba (Papa), I need your help! Help me!" Two, our minds are renewed by the Godly information (the bible) and through God's Power (His Holy Spirit) and we literally start to desire things of God and lose our appetite for things of this world. It's important to note that this is a process (sanctification) and Christians shouldn't be discouraged if this doesn't happen overnight.
Consistently read or listen to the Bible each day
Write ways you can apply what you've read
Surround yourself with Scripture. Write it out on index cards to put on walls or carry around with you or have it as your wallpaper on your phone and laptop.
5) Find Your Unique Way to Praise God in this season
God has given everyone a unique gift and talent. As Christians, we have the ability to not only use these talents to benefit ourselves and those around us but also bring glory to God the original giver. This is our worship. I've found that using one of my gifts such as writing during hard seasons has helped me connect with God in a fresh way. Remember, that we have our gifts to build each other up, not solely for our own gain.
What would you say is a gift or talent God has given you? How can you use it to bring Him glory?
Make a list of things you're good at and/or enjoy
Pray about one way you can use one gift/talent you have to point others to God
Create a plan to implement that idea