Few things aggravate most of us as much as being told “no” that we cannot do something we want to do or believe we should be able to do. We delude ourselves into believing we are not selfish and demanding until we face that big little word “no.” Even though we ascribe it as an issue for toddlers, the truth is that it remains an issue for us and right now in this season of crisis around the world we can see it more clearly.
Whatever corner of the world we live in, we are being asked to cease doing much of what we do routinely even if we are currently healthy and well. And to make it harder, we are being told that it could be for longer than a few days or even weeks. Each of us is faced with what we choose to do if we are still in a place where the choice is ours.
In some cases, leaders are learning from history. They look at how cities, towns, and countries responded to the great pandemic of Spanish Flu that circled the globe in 1918-1919. What they discover is that those who took more radical steps to curtail social exposure had fewer deaths. A great comparison is looking up the difference between St. Louis, MO, and Philadelphia, PA, during that time.
Humankind has never liked the word “no” as it is sown into our DNA. Our oldest relatives, Adam and Eve, set us up for this when they could not accept “no” about only one tree in the beautiful Garden of Eden so long ago. Their rebellion haunts us and lingers in us to varying degrees.
We can be lulled into living as if all we have will always be readily available whenever we want it or need it, paying little heed to knowing we each receive life one day, one moment at a time.
We also don’t do well preparing for things we do not have experience with at the moment. How many laughed and mocked Noah when he built an ark instructed by the Lord when humankind had never seen rain, rainstorms or any kind of flood before?
Too many among us don’t like to study history but fail to realize the gifts it offers us to help us living in the now.
The current crisis will be weathered best by those who trust in the One who only has told us “no” when it was for our own good and by those who submit to the authorities over them seeking to help us before we fall prey to a worsening situation.
Fear knocks on the doors of many hearts, minds, and spirits, but fear will defeat us if we ignore what biblical and world history teaches us. Foolishness will also defeat us if we ignore what fear is reminding us to take heed of.
As Dr. Dan Allender and Dr. Tremper Longman III wrote in 1994 in Cry of the Soul, our emotions reveal our deepest questions about God. As they write about the emotion of fear, here are some key points they offer:
“Different people fear different things with different levels of intensity, but all of us fear what we cannot control.”
“Fear is provoked when the threat of danger (physical or relational) exposes our inability to preserve what we cherish most deeply.”
No one would likely argue with either of these statements, but consider what else they wrote about fear:
“Fear can function as a warning light when danger is near. It can function to keep ourselves from harm.”
Some of us are blessed right now to have warning lights going off. We are not ill as yet and we can give up on our stubborn desires to go about life as though nothing is happening and say “no” to restrictions, or we can see those warning lights of caution as a gift of love for our protection.
John Eldredge recently released a new free app (Pause) in conjunction with his newly released book, Get Your Life Back. The app allows you to practice a pause to reflect – first for just one minute at times you set each day and then to increase to three, five, and ten minutes. The one-minute pause shows a beautiful mountain waterfall with beautiful music in the background as John speaks these words we could all use at present:
“Jesus – I give everyone and everything to you.
I give everyone and everything to you, God.
I give myself to you, Jesus,
For union with you.
I am created for union with you, God.
I give everything in me for union with you, Lord.
I need more of you, God.
Fill me with more of you.”
When everything in us wants to shout “no”, may we submit to Him and say “yes.”