A Neighbor’s Corona Virus Story.

“Therefore, my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.”  Psalm 143:4

The verse above is from a prayer by David.

Today, a neighbor talked with me while I was getting my mail. We were careful, standing at least 15 feet apart. She poured out her heart to me about her mother-in-law, who has all the symptoms of Coronavirus and nothing is being done for her. They aren’t allowed to take her to the hospital, even though there are empty beds. She is suffering at her home, all alone. She is quarantined and in pain, gasping and trying to get her breath. She is 83. The hospital told her family, “It isn’t time yet.” My friend told her mother-in-law to dial 911 (which they did once already and no one came), when she felt she was dying so someone would come get her body.

I think hospitals here are doing this because they have run out of tests for the virus, nurses are becoming infected and she is 83 years old. I can’t think of any other reason they would not even try to relieve her suffering. I see statistics on the news that the curve is flattening here in Canada. Well, that makes sense since they aren’t taking tests and are leaving people to fend for themselves and die alone.  I felt so sad for this family.

My sister and I talk about the virus every day. She lives in Washington State and I live in BC, Canada. We think she has had the virus already. She was very sick a week ago, but is back to feeling awful instead of horrible. She has a lot of health problems and never feels normal.

She and I are both negative people. We have always thought the worst would probably happen to us and people we love. We are “catastrophic thinkers.” Each event, we take to the nth degree of disaster. We don’t want any surprises. This has made life extra hard for us, but we have both been working on turning to God with these thoughts. Believe me, he comes through big-time.

You know how a person gets into that kind of thinking? My sister was threatened by a family member a few times by waking up with a sharp knife at her throat. I was abused by my father. If your life is threatened by someone close to you when you are a little child, you never feel safe again.

But this is where faith in God comes in. Not that we think God won’t let us get the virus and die, no, we just trust him to know what is best. If God doesn’t want you to die, you won’t. And if you are dying, he will be with you. This gives me peace. I wrote about this recently, but I feel I should share this again.

Also, there is hope for new medicine and a vaccine. I just read last night a university in Canada has experimented and found a drug that seems to help people get better from the virus. That made me so happy. I hope they will start using it on patients soon.

The prayer of David, at the beginning of my post goes on to say:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works;

I consider the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You;

my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails.

Do not hide Your face from me, or I will be like those who descend to the Pit.

Let me hear Your loving devotion in the morning, for I have put my trust in You.

Teach me the way I should walk, for to You I lift up my soul.

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD; I flee to You for refuge.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.

May Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

This is a good prayer for this time in history. When we feel our spirit faint within us, consider the works of Jesus, stretch out your hands to him. Put your trust in him. Ask him to teach you how to live. Then rest in his love.

God says to all of us,Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you; I will surely help you;

I will hold you up with My right hand of righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

Let Go and Let God.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

I’ve read this verse many times, but I found out something I didn’t know before. A person who knows the Hebrew language said that “Be still…” means, “Loosen your grip. Let go.”

He said, “know that I am God,” means, “Experience God.”

Both interpretations are lovely, but I think “loosen your grip,” gives us a lot more to think about. What do we hold onto that we should let go? I think it means let go of your worries, sadness and perhaps your plans. You can do that by experiencing close friendship with God. When we know him better and better each day, we will learn how to trust him. We can then have a mind that is quieted by God.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

I’ve thought a lot about how peace guards our hearts. When you are full of peace, the daily irritations, and even big disappointments don’t bother you as much.

I’ve been ill lately because my mother, whom I take care of, wasn’t sleeping well. So, for a couple of weeks I didn’t get enough sleep. Then two of my teeth were pulled and I had a headache for a week. Lack of sleep and pain made me feel really sad. Did I have peace of mind? I think so, but I will say sadness was in my heart. I’ve learned to give my sad feelings to God and I asked him to help me care for my mother. He helped me each day.

I tell you this because of course there are things that happen that will make us sad. Sometimes we can feel sad for a very long time. Jesus felt sadness, so it is not a sin to feel that way. But I wanted his comfort, wanted to feel his arms around me. He did comfort me as I prayed, and I’m thankful.

There has been a lot of talk in Christian circles on how to go through grief and yet have joy at the same time. Jesus did that too. He grieved for his people Israel, yet because of the “joy that was ahead, he endured the cross, despising the shame of it.”

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2,3

Feeling very sad and yet having joy about Jesus and one day being with him forever is a paradox, I guess. It is hard to wrap my mind around, but I am going to keep trying. I do know one thing, sadness alone leads to despair and God doesn’t want us to go there.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.Psalm 43:5

God and the Virus.

Well, it has been an interesting year so far. Of course, the virus is the big thing, but then there are the other trials of life on top of it. My mother has been having more health problems and sleeping problems, my oldest daughter’s marriage is over, my husband is waiting for back surgery and I had two teeth pulled out last Friday and have felt sick ever since. Also, I need new glasses only 6 months after getting new ones. I turned 70 the other day and I still need to lose weight. I started dieting when I was 11. (There have been slim years and other not so slim years. Lol)

Jesus said, “Love not the world…” I can honestly say I do not.

The virus and God. I’m sure there are people saying God sent this virus because we are such terrible people and he is punishing us. This theme comes up whenever there is a disaster.

Does God punish people? The Bible shows us that he does do that sometimes. But unless you are a prophet, you don’t know why anything is happening. I think we should leave all speculation behind. This virus came by eating unclean animals or some germ-warfare escaping from a lab.

I live in Canada and we are getting more virus cases every day. Pretty well everything has shut down. My husband is working from home; thousands upon thousands of people have been laid-off their jobs. Our government is going to make sure those who cannot work from home are taken care of. I’m happy about that. It is always the working poor that suffer the most.

My mom, who is 92, my husband and I are vulnerable to this virus. If we ever get it, we could easily die. We all have serious health issues. But we aren’t afraid and that’s all because of Jesus, his Father and the Holy Spirit. They live in our hearts and the three of us believe if we die, we will be with God in person (a hugely exciting thought); if we live, then God has a good reason for that. I don’t think anyone on earth dies without God’s permission. You can read about that in the first chapters of the book of Job. Satan was only allowed to do so much to Job. He was not allowed to kill him.

One thing about this virus is it may make people stop and think about how short life is and perhaps some will start praying and learning about God. People will have time now to meditate on their lives and the meaning of life. Our culture is so full of busyness and distractions, we hardly have time to think. Also, I am sure there will be a baby boom in nine months!

All I can say is that if you want peace of mind during times like this, give your life to God and he will flood you with his peace. He is the one full of love, goodness and peace. We are the ones filled with worry, fear and hatred. He will fill you with himself, if you ask him, and keep asking him every day. This exchange is not a one-time thing. It is a daily thing. We need him every moment of every day.

What Do We Thirst For?

Broken Roman cistern.

 “A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Wikipedia.

At one time, God said, “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!”   Jeremiah 2:13

We cannot live long without water. We can live longer, but not forever, without food. God uses many symbols throughout the Bible to give us a mental picture of life with or without him. Eating and drinking seems to be the most common symbol.

The verse above came to me when I was reading about Jesus speaking to the people he had fed with the bread and fish. Excited about getting free food, the people had at first tried to force Jesus to be King of Israel, but he stopped them and sent them home. The next day the people searched for Jesus and found him. They wanted him to be their ruler and make sure they had miraculous food all the time.

Some of them said, “Sir, give us this bread every day.”

Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Everyone who comes to me will never hunger and everyone who believes in me will never thirst.”             John 6:35,35

When the people heard this, most of them turned away from Jesus and didn’t follow him any longer. They realized he would not be the kind of king they desired.

I’ve read about this many times, but sometimes when I am reading the Bible, the words seem to jump out at me and shine brightly. As I thought about what Jesus had said about drinking from him, I remembered what he said to the woman at the well.

He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It will become a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”   John 4:14

Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to be a good person (or, for righteousness), for they will be satisfied.”   Matthew 5:6

So, I asked myself, “What do I hunger and thirst for in this life?”

In my teens, a boyfriend to love me and babies to hold. In my twenties, a happy marriage and more money. Well, I did get the babies! And that was a fantastic gift from God. I also got a divorce and a second marriage.

I did want to be a good person too. I wanted to be like God. But in my twenties and thirties, I would say the love of a man was what I most hungered and thirsted for. And when that love, or lack of love, was in bad shape, I was in bad shape too.

I think in my forties and fifties, it was the love of my children and grandchildren I thirsted for the most. They became my idols. I was with God, yes. He lived in me, helped me and kept me going. But deep down I didn’t really believe he loved me, which kept me at arms length, I think. I liked having God in my life, but loving him was difficult.

In my sixties, I have finally fallen in love with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are my everything, and give me so much joy. I do believe they love me.

I have found the love I hungered for in this world was not good enough when I got it. It never measured up to my expectations; it never filled me up; it never satisfied me. People can never do that for us; they are only human. They cannot be everything we need, but God can be and will be if we eat and drink from him through pouring out our hearts to him in prayer and studying his words in the Bible.

Disunity in the Churches.

There is a lot of disunity among Christians these days. I have read about this and also heard about it on podcasts. Just the other day, I heard this: “People say Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.”  The podcasters didn’t like this. They insisted Christianity is a religion. They didn’t understand what these other Christians meant. They thought they were putting down the Christian religion.

When Christians say, “It’s a relationship,” they mean that this is the most important facet of Christianity. Without the relationship with God the father, Son and Holy Spirit, and you say you are a Christian, you are just following the rules. As Jesus said, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” Luke 11:39

We cannot become truly clean inside without a living relationship with God. It is impossible. He alone is the strength of our life, which even the writers of the Old Testament knew.

We are living in time of the end of the world. Jesus is returning soon and calling his children, “Come out of her my people, that you be not partakers of their sins.” Revelation 18:4

I believe this verse means God’s people who are in churches that are led by evil leaders. This verse is coming true right now. People are leaving the regular Christian churches and starting their own. They could not stay with people who said they were Christians and yet are full of hate.

I left my church because of the way the people there treated non-Christians. I also didn’t like they way they treated each other. I didn’t see love there; I saw harsh judgement and criticism.

Most religions or churches don’t want people in their community if that person disagrees with them on doctrine or life-style. Drinking, drugs and sex are the sins they think are the worst. Pride, greed, selfishness and unkindness aren’t really addressed. But their kind of teaching is the opposite of both the Old and New Testaments.

Jesus doesn’t care what church you go to. As he said to the woman at the well, “Sir,” the woman said, “I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews say the place where one must worship is Jerusalem.”

Jesus said, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation comes through the Jews. But a time is coming and has now come, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is seeking these kinds of people to worship him. God is Spirit, and his worshiper must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:19-24

 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.”

 “Do not stop him,” Jesus replied, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49,50

Paul wrote, “All of us who are mature should embrace this point of view. And if you think differently about some issue, God will reveal this to you as well. Nevertheless, we must live up to what we have already attained.”   Philippians 3:15,16

Whatever church you belong to, whatever your beliefs about God, that is the freedom God has given us. We must give that freedom to others. If there is disunity among the churches, we should accept that with love.

The Knowledge of Evil.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   Philippians 4:8

I’ve thought about this verse a lot lately. When I have negative thoughts, I usually praise and thank God out loud and the thoughts go away. I don’t let myself dwell on sad or bad thoughts.

Last week, I came across a review on a new book about the Circus and the arenas in ancient Rome. I’m interested in history, so I began reading the review. They quoted the author on some of the different games and contests that were celebrated. The games became so popular that there was pressure on the administrator to show the people something new and more spectacular each time.

As I read about the contests and killings, I thought, “I should stop reading this. It is going to get worse.” But no, I did not stop reading until I came upon something so horrible, so unspeakable, that it took my breath away that men would do such things to each other. And these things took place a hundred years before Jesus was born. The games were corrupt almost immediately.

The humans they used in these games were prisoners, slaves or captives of war. Their lives meant nothing to the ones who put on the games and probably little to the common Roman who went to the games. Their suffering and humiliation was sport.

The Romans got the idea for having games after a victory from the Greeks. But I’m pretty sure the Greeks did not torture and slaughter people and animals in their games. Reading those few paragraphs made me realize why Rome’s enemies hated her.

But the moral of my story isn’t about the Romans, it is about me. I was curious and so I read on and on. Afterwards, I felt sick and had images in my mind that will always be there. I was like Eve, who wanted to know if the fruit would maker her smarter. The Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the name of the tree. She had no knowledge of evil, and I guess she felt if God had the knowledge then she should have it too.

But the knowledge of the evil going on in this world is depressing and incredibly heavy. We aren’t meant to carry that heavy load. I do think though, that we should fight against evil, like human trafficking. If we didn’t know it was going on, how could we help those who are caught in slavery?

I have heard about ministries that help the children who are kidnapped into the sex trade. Joyce Meyer Ministries helps those children and there are many other Christians in this work. What a blessing they are!

There are things I have seen in newspapers I wish I had never seen. There are movies and TV shows I wish I had never seen. The depths to which sin goes is as deep as the ocean. These horrors of evil we have to give to God to carry. We haven’t got the strength.

And there is that Bible verse in Philippians. God wants us to think on that which is good and lovely. It is the best way to live, to have peace and love in our hearts. The more we think on God, read the Bible and pray, the more we will see the beauty of goodness. As we see that, we will admire God, who is goodness himself. When we contrast what he is like with evil deeds, we will worship him even more.

I used to like to read about politics and world events, but I noticed it made me feel angry and sad. I rarely read anything on those subjects now. There is nothing I can do about corrupt politicians, except vote for someone I think is good. I just want enough information to do that.

David wrote, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”   Psalm 101:3      Good advice.

Sometimes We Feel Overwhelmed. Like Every Day.

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You; when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”   Psalm 61:2

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, and yes, I cried out to God and he lifted me to stand on the rock, Jesus. I often wonder how people manage life without Jesus.

My mother is 92, and has been living with us for around 4 years. There have been many ups and downs in her health. We have called for an ambulance at least 5 times. She broke her hip, had an operation, got an infection, was diagnosed with colon cancer and had heart attacks. She sleeps a lot, but still eats (not very much) and enjoys watching TV, playing Yahtzee and reading magazines. Her short-term memory is gone, so she has had to stop reading books.

Two or three weeks ago, she started coughing a lot. It wasn’t a cold, so I took her to the doctor. It turned out she has acid reflux so bad that she had burned her throat. She had had no symptoms of acid reflux, so I was surprised. But the doctor was right, after giving her the new medicine she got better. She started sleeping through the night again.

As soon as she was a bit better, her sciatic nerve went wonky and she was in terrible pain one morning. She would scream at the slightest move. It was so hard for her to get out of bed, go to the bathroom – just everything.

But I thank God for the internet. I looked up sciatic pain and one of the things an article said was it can be caused by slumping in your chair. Well, Mom was slumping lately. She said she was comfy when she was doing it, but I told her it might be causing her sciatica to give her pain. I started watching and having her sit up straight when she was up.

It worked. I gave her pills for the pain too, of course, but she has needed less and less medication. She can move around easily now.

All this time I have called out to God for help because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Night after night being woken by my poor mom was making me feel exhausted. (Like new parents with a baby – very difficult, I know.) But believe me, God came through, like he always does and I was able to take care of my mom. I’m so grateful to Him.

This morning, I was thinking about my grandson, who has had an off and on addiction to heroin. Actually, I think about him every day and pray for him. His life has been so sad it just brings me to tears to think of him. We all love him so much and it has been so painful for everyone in the family to see how he has suffered.

Thinking about him makes my heart sink and I knew I was thinking too much because I was getting depressed. Maybe because I’ve been so tired too. I was feeling overwhelmed. So, I prayed and went to do my Bible study. I’ve been writing out the Bible in my own words, hoping to put the words deep in my heart.

What I read really encouraged me and I want to share it with you. It is from Philippians 3. The whole chapter is beautiful, and I will share that some other time, but these are the words that helped me the most this morning:

Paul writes, “I want to know Jesus, yes, I want to know the power of his resurrection and also participate in his sufferings.”

This stopped me cold. Do I want to participate in his sufferings? No, I don’t. I am weak and a whiny baby. I want everything to be great and to not have any problems and I want to see everyone in my family to be well and happy with no problems.

Jesus suffered, but not only on the cross. He suffered when Lucifer and a whack of angels turned their backs on him. They were his children. He suffered when he saw the grief around him as he walked this earth. He suffered when his brothers made fun of him. He suffered when his earthly father, Joseph, died. He suffered when Judas betrayed him. He suffered when the church of his day rejected him and called him demon-possessed.

He suffers now. When I think someone in my family will not be saved, my heart melts from pain. He has to see those on earth, through the thousands of years we have been here, who reject his offer of eternal life. He loves them. He died for them. They are his children too. He says he was there the day they were born, hoping for them that they would have faith.

Do I want to participate in his sufferings? No, but I will pray that I will. I will pray God will give me the strength, because I have none. I will pray for the mind and heart of Jesus. I will pray he will fill me with himself, and I know he will do that for me, simply because I asked.