As of writing, I am thirteen days at home quarantine. Except for the short drives to pick up groceries, fruits, the essentials and fast food drive thrus, I’ve been home for thirteen solid days.
To date, four people have asked how I am because they know I am home alone. One good friend stopped by to bring me one big bowl of onion soup, one big round bread to go with it, artichoke dip and bananas for dessert. So, when the texts and calls come to ask how I am, I always reply, “I’m good. Thanks for asking. I hope you and yours are doing okay.”
I was good. I am better. Until…
I don’t know how and when exactly it started. I’m not exactly sure if it was the evening before, when I woke up that day or when I came home from one of my drives, I felt a foreboding cloud hanging over me. I cannot articulate what exactly I was feeling, I just know something is amiss.
It started with a low grade fear. I felt anxious. I told myself I was just hormonal (having ended my period days before, to my men readers, you also know what I mean). I woke up the next day and the same feeling is still there.
As the day progressed, I caught myself not only feeling anxious, but on the edge of feeling lonely. It took me a few minutes to process what I was thinking. As soon as I realized the direction my mind was going to which explains why I feel the way I feel, I snapped myself back to right thinking. When I thought better, I felt better.
For many years, I’ve allowed my thoughts to stray very far from what is true. Naturally, my emotions follow and instead of it being just a gauge, it became my guide. When I think anxious, I felt anxious. I act anxious. Things can spiral downwards.
U in our P.A.U.S.E. acronym is Understand we have an enemy and the battleground is in our mind.
Good soldiers know if they don’t recognize who their enemy is, they can lose the war. We, too, must be able to identify who our enemy is, what he is and is not capable of doing.
Yes, Jesus won the victory for us but we are to live according to Jesus’ victory. There are still battles to be fought in prayer and in our minds.
The Bible has a clear profile on who the enemy is. The enemy is the father of lies – John 8:44, the thief – John 10:10, the great dragon and serpent – Revelation 12:9, the tempter – Matthew 4:3, the enemy and the avenger – Psalm 8:2, the accuser of the brethren – Revelation 12:10, the evil one – Matthew 6:13, the adversary seeking whom he may devour – 1 Peter 5:8, the ruler of this world – John 14:30, the prince of the power of the air – Ephesians 2:1-2. No amount of denying he exists will change what the Bible says about him.
The reason to know this is to be able to put the blame exactly where it belongs. We must never blame God for what the enemy does. For us believers this means that God’s enemy will always be our enemy.
Here’s how he attacks us. First, he will always come to try to entice us to doubt God. Look what he did to Eve at the garden (Genesis 3:4-6). Never believe anything bad about God. Next, he deceives us especially when we continually reject the truth (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
Remember though he enemy may appear strong, but only God is All-Powerful. The only way the enemy has power is because people give it to him.
The enemy’s power is limited, God’s power is infinite. Therefore, we are to dwell on the all-powerful God for whom nothing is impossible. The Lord’s power has no limits except when we limit His access to our lives.
The enemy is not everywhere. He can only be where there is an opening for him. The enemy does not know everything. He is very limited to the power we give him and the access we allow him. Friends, let’s take back the power we gave him, and let’s close the access he is allowed to in our lives.
Just as a good soldier need to know who the enemy is, a good soldier must also know the layout of the battleground as much as the soldier possibly can.
There is a major war zone that is not the government, a crime-infested neighbourhoods, or in the realm of a pandemic. It is the invisible realm that is every bit as real as the physical – it is the battlefield of our minds.
In our minds we make decisions and make choices that will make or break us, including those around us.
Thoughts and feelings of guilt, condemnation, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, hatred to self or others, anger, resentment, the inability to forgive, futility or as if it is you against the world. All these are the enemy’s common and favorite tactics against you.
When the battlefield is in your mind, you will experience torment, confusion, irrational fears, extreme doubt, or other destructive emotions.
Let us secure this battlefront. When we deal with this battlefront, it will make us stronger in other areas, especially as we face our new normal – shelter-in-place/stay-at-home – in this COVID19 pandemic. The most common attack of the enemy is in our mind and this is the foreboding spirit of anxiety.
Max Lucado in his book, “Anxious for Nothing” wrote, “The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.” He continues, “Anxiety and fear are cousins, but they are not twins. Fear sees a threat, anxiety imagines a threat. Anxiety writes a story that doesn’t exist.”
He offers four ways to combat anxiety and they are represented by the acronym C.A.L.M. based from Philippians 4:4-8:
C-elebrate God’s goodness
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
A-sk God for help
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
L-eave your concerns with Him
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
M-editate on good things
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. What you have learned and received and hear and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
When you dwell on what is true, you will know what is false. When we know Truth, we can defeat the lies.
So, COVID19, it feels a little comforting to know that we’re all in this together, worldwide. We are all figuring this new world together. NO ONE knows how to do this well.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69, ESV
Letting you know I am here, fumbling through this just like we all are. Fumbling yet holding on to hope and tightening my grip on God.
Question for reflection
What have you been feeding your mind? What you feed lives, what you starve dies. Feed your faith. Starve your doubts.
One small step in the right direction
Read Philippians 4:4-8 from your physical Bible. Read it. Underline it. Color it. Read it again. Then, read it again. Read and re-read as often as you can.
If you don’t have a physical Bible, download the Bible app/YouVersion, Bible Olive Tree app, ESV Bible app, CSB Bible app, or Bible Gateway app and read from it.