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When I started thinking about this topic, I first considered the oft used analogy of diamonds. You know the one. It takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond! If you’re going through a lot of pressure right now, don’t worry. Hang in there; someday you’ll be a beautiful diamond! Okay, sure, there’s value to the reference. But the truth is, if we were to only go through a tiny fraction of the real pressure carbon has to undergo before it turns into a diamond, we would be a squishy mess. I don’t even like headaches. Little ones. I’m a weeny like that. The truth is, we’re all undergoing various kinds of pressure, such as: physical, the actual results of the virus or emotional, the fear of getting sick and the financial fallout due to shuttered or severely limited businesses. Often those physical and mental/emotional stresses meld together as one transforms and intensifies the other. Stress can and does take a huge toll on our minds and bodies. Attempts to minimize or ignore what we’re going through don’t really reduce our suffering or give us healing.

Ask for help. Our society, despite all the ways we’re technically connected, is in ways more disconnected that ever, especially during this time when we have a reason to distance ourselves physically. That can be an even bigger challenge for introverts like me, as we’re already prone to isolating ourselves. Always keeping things to yourself and trying to be your own hero has limitations and can even make things worse. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to just walk it off. Why would you tell yourself or anyone else to ignore a life disrupting mental or emotional issue? Take advantage of resources. Even if some offices remain closed, many professionals are available for phone or internet consultations who weren’t before the current crisis. Ask questions and be your own best advocate. Also, be on the lookout for others who need help. Go out of your way to be a human life preserver.

Don’t neglect yourself spiritually. Trust God to help you in your time of need. Jesus Christ was clear when he directed his followers. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11 ESV The Apostle Paul writes, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Finally, know that God has a plan for your life. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

From my deepest depths
I have sought you Jesus
my keeper and redeemer
You know best how I’m made
All ways I’m found wanting
have been covered and paid
You’ve purchased my eternity

I have assurance
my king Jesus
blessed assurance
for if You are for us
who can be against us?
No power on earth
can approach
that of your majesty.

I know peace
my shepherd, Jesus
my way maker, comforter
When the defects of this world
threaten with darkness to enfold
those I love and my life
you fill me with serenity

© Joel Tipple 4/25/2020

My Help

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I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

Safety on the journey. And whoa, what a journey! Right? No matter who you are, no matter your station in life, you might feel at the moment like you’re stuck on the Titanic as it goes down, with the band continuing to play on one side, while your lifeboat lowers on the other. The problem? Your lifeboat only has room for one guy and 25 packages of toilet paper, his toilet paper. Seriously though, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is give you advice about a certain virus. We’re getting plenty of advice right now, some of it even from informed sources. By the time the current crisis has subsided, I’m certain we’ll all feel like we’ve earned a fistful of college credits toward a degree in epidemiology. Besides keeping up with that continuing education, there is one thing in particular I’m trying to focus on, my attitude. It’s easy to be judgmental toward people who are fearful. Depending on your situation and, let’s face it, simply your emotional makeup, you might have trouble relating to folks who are freaking out. If some of the long lines and short tempers are any indication, a lot of folks are just plain scared. Have you ever noticed how helpful you can be by telling someone who is freaking out, “Hey, stop freaking out!” Me neither. I believe I can do the most good as far as my reach goes by being prayerful, helpful, and compassionate towards those around me. If any of my words or actions don’t fall within those parameters, I’m just making noise. What did Paul call it? “A sounding brass or clanging cymbal.” 1st Corinthians 13 teaches me that’s not what love sounds like.

The second thing we can do is, like the Psalmist says, focus on where our help comes from, no matter the situation. When the people we love are frightened, sick, or in pain, our help comes from the Lord. When the institutions we rely on struggle to meet new challenges, our help comes from the Lord. When we ourselves grow tired, fearful, and lose patience with those around us, our help still comes from the Lord.

When life’s overwhelming
and I’m reminded of just how small
I truly am
I run to you great maker
never forsaker

You’re the one I sing
Through the noise
your voice rings
never alone
no matter where I go
I’m always home
all encompassing God

© Joel Tipple 3/15/2020