Written by Marta Ferreira, England
I consider myself fairly good at remembering things. I’m often the person people turn to, saying “Remind me to . . .”. And yet I am often surprised at how easily I forget to remember what’s truly important—who my God is—when insecurities and lies come to my mind or a storm seems to be brewing.
When the first wave of COVID-19 hit England and we went into lockdown, I had a lot of adjusting to do. Then, just as things were easing up and I had re-established my routine, I found out through my colleagues that the area I lived in was going into a local lockdown. Immediately, I saw my freedom and joys crumbling before my eyes.
I’m a very social person and enjoy having regular meet-ups with people during the week, and I had finally started being able to do that again. Now I would no longer be able to watch my church’s online service with two of my friends, or have weekly teas with a family from church. The way I saw it, I was going to be isolated. It hit me hard. I hid in the toilet and cried.
Finding Hope Amidst Hopelessness
I often find that my default mode to bad news is to just go into a spiral of worrying, overthinking, and panicking. That morning, I let my feelings and thoughts run loose and got completely carried away with my fears. Did I pray? Yeah, I did, but, as it often is in moments like that, it was a prayer that came from a desperate and hopeless place. A prayer uttered in fear, with very little confidence. I felt cornered.
However, as I began to pray, a sliver of light started to slowly shine through my dark storm. It was very subtle, at first, but for every worry I had, Bible verses started coming to my mind. The more I dwelled on those few calming thoughts, the more they came. So, I let myself get carried away in remembering who my Father is and what His Word said. Then I suddenly noticed that my heart wasn’t racing anymore. My mind was still, and, oddly, I felt peace.
And Lamentations 3:21-25 came to mind:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
The book of Lamentations is filled with the deep laments of the prophet Jeremiah, who had just seen his nation, Israel, destroyed and plundered by a foreign nation. This happened after he tried to warn them time and time again that the Lord was calling them to come back to Him and to put their trust in Him alone, but his people completely ignored his pleas.
Yet, despite all that, Jeremiah had hope. Even when he looked around and could only see hopelessness, he had hope. Why? Because he called to mind who his God was—His hope did not rest on his ever-changing circumstances, but on the unchangeable, loving, eternally good God. He who is sovereign and who has promised to deliver those who turn to Him and seek Him. He who can make all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
I was reminded that day that our hope is founded in that same God. For me, that means having hope even when it looks like all the efforts to stop the spread of the virus is not working. It means having hope even when restrictions are still here, even though I thought they would be a distant nightmare by now. Or even when I have to keep cycling to work in the cold, dark, and rain. When I just don’t know when I’ll be able to hug my friends again or if I’ll be able to see my family for Christmas. Just like Jeremiah, despite all this, I know I can still have hope, I just have to call to mind my reason for hope.
Ways to Call to Mind God’s Goodness
The good news is, God knows just how forgetful we are and, because of that, He gave us some instructions on how to keep things fresh in our minds. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, God instructed His people to keep His commandments in their hearts by talking about those commandments with the people around them, writing them on their doorposts and gates, and keeping them always before them.
God’s commandments are a sign of His love and care for us, so applying the same practices in our everyday lives helps us set our minds on His promises and remain hopeful. Here are three simple ways I’ve been putting Deuteronomy 6:6-9 into practice:
1. Point others to God’s truth with a simple text
A practical way for us to talk about the truths we find in the Bible with those around us is to send them a text, which I know from experience can go a long way. That morning I found out about the local lockdown, a friend had texted me a verse and a prayer, and that made a huge difference to me.
2. Surround yourself with verses
I’ve also found it helpful to keep God’s Word before me by writing down verses and sticking them on the walls in my room, placing them as lockscreens for my phone, or having them at my desk at work. I choose verses that God has called to my attention at some point in my life, verses that speak to what I’m going through right now, or ones that just encourage me to constantly look to God and bring my life, worries, and joys to Him.
3. Fix your eyes on an encouraging truth
Even though I’ve been surrounding myself with verses, it doesn’t mean I’ll always look at them. But I find that, whenever I need it the most, my eyes will wander towards a verse, and I’m challenged and comforted by the truth it proclaims.
Many times during this new lockdown, when I start to get discouraged, miss my friends, or when Covid-19 uncertainties seems never ending and I catch myself grumbling, a visual image of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which is on my wall, comes to mind. So, I ask God to help me “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.” As I pray, I notice my perspective changing, and I find strength and motivation to carry on my day with joy and to look outwards to other people’s needs.
While it’s been a good practice for me to write down verses and paste them in my surroundings, I’m reminded that most importantly, God gave us His own Spirit to live within us. He is the one who intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27) in our weaknesses, and who will bring to our minds the truths we need to remember. Not only what we see in the Bible, but also the faithfulness we have experienced in our lives, the times when God’s goodness and mercy were evident to us on a personal level. He’ll bring our trials into perspective and remind us that there is an eternal hope, which does not put us to shame (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 5:3-5).
Now, I’m not saying I’ve got this sorted out perfectly. But this experience has given me confidence to look ahead. I’m still stuck in lockdown and things continue to be hard, but I now know that God can break into my troubled thoughts and bring me peace. I pray that His Spirit will strengthen me and help me to choose to always call to mind who my God is, rather than what causes me fear. And I trust that He will do that for me and anyone who asks, because He is faithful.