Excerpt from our District Superintendent's newsletter
So, how are you doing?
For many of us, this can be a hard question to answer. Perhaps it is a "relative question," as in, "I am not doing at all well, but it could be worse - I could have COVID - at least, I don't think I have it ..."
Or, it may be that you are doing well physically, but you are struggling emotionally and even spiritually. It has been more than a year of closures. Some closures have been rather random, unpredictable, and in the minds of many, unfair. (We won't get into this). Pastors and leaders today may well find themselves personally weary and drained, while also seeking to faithfully lead people who are discouraged, and of divided opinion about government actions, the "fairness" of restrictions, and the wisdom and safety of gathering together (when possible).
Planning for life in the summer and fall, let alone planning ministries, is challenging as we cannot predict what will be allowed, and we can feel dragged into a vortex of discouragement.
Earlier this week, EFCC Leadership Catalyst, Terry Kaufman shared an article from the New York Times (and re-posted in the Indian Times and Irish Times), that suggests that the appropriate term for what people are feeling today is, "languishing." This is not a term that is used often today, but it is is an appropriate one. (see popular definition above). The writer believes that the term "languishing" captures what people are feeling today, and I believe that he is "bang on," both of what we are observing and perhaps personally feeling. In reading the article, I thought that if what he writes is true in America, where things are "opening up," how much more true of us, where even more closures and enforcement is threatened.
Columnist Adam Grant writes, "Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself." Sound familiar?
Here is the link to the article: covid-mental-health-languishing
The Bible speaks of "languishing," and may also translate the word as "sorrowing," "wasting away" and "mourning." Relief is to be found in the intervention of God. One can languish due to famine, because of hardship or through the depravity of people's actions (Hosea 4:2,3).
Prayers of those languishing are for God to reach out. "My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your word, While I say, “When will You comfort me?” (Psalm 119:81,82). When God intervenes, there is relief. As Jeremiah writes, "They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord— Over the grain, the new wine, the oil, And over the young of the flock and the herd. And their life will be like a watered garden, And they will never languish again...For I give plenty of water to the weary ones, and refresh everyone who languishes.” (Jeremiah 31:12,25) NASB.
As the "remedy" to languishing is God's intervention and refreshment, so we are called to encourage one another to this end. While we "languish" that we appear to be "stuck" in a holding pattern that forbids us from physically meeting together as extended families, as church families and as friends, we can encourage one another and support one another in every way that we can. May we know God's presence and peace, and may we learn to rest in Him in the midst of a pandemic. God is at work, and He can bring us out of this "better" than we entered it.
Oswald Chamber's writing in this morning's "My Utmost For His Highest" is an encouraging word for us today. It is entitled, "Do You Worship the Work," and is a reflection on 1 Corinthians 3:9. In these days of serving in a time of pandemic, it is a good reminder to focus first on God, and not simply on the ministry. Here is the link: do-you-worship-the-work
Easter and Ramadan
Having just come through our second Easter under COVID, we may also be aware that this is also the month or Ramadan for the Islamic world.
Mission Central has recently posted a helpful article that helps us to better understand what Ramadan is, what the tenets of Islam are, and to contrast these from the Christian Faith. I trust that you will find this helpful and that it will better equip us to understand and reach out to our Muslim neighbours.