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‘Looking up — getting your eyes on God’

I was recently at a safety training seminar, and the instructor said, “We tend to believe that in a crisis people will rise to the occasion and meet the challenge, but that is not true. We only rise to the level of our training.”

As I write this article, the world is experiencing a crisis unlike anything any of us has experienced. Furthermore, I have no idea what things will be like by the time you are reading this.

Currently, as I write on Friday, March 20, we are adjusting to the idea that all but essential, life supporting businesses are closed until further notice. The Johns Hopkins University situation map shows that Pennsylvania has 303 (100 more than five hours ago) confirmed cases when there weren’t even 30 a week ago. There are now 272,000 cases confirmed in the world.

What are we to think, and what are we to do in this moment? Really, the same things we should always think and do, but at a more intense level. We are to be looking up and out, not inward.

Unfortunately, that won’t be our reaction if it isn’t what we have already trained ourselves to do.

It is so tempting, especially when social distancing is of critical importance, to become completely self-absorbed. By the time you read this, you will have probably heard of many ways you can reach out and help others, and you will have been reminded of how important it is to connect in some way with others to combat the ills of isolation.

It may be, though, that you feel too despondent or fearful to do that. You may want to help but find yourself retreating or just plain feeling overwhelmed.

That is why the first step needs to be looking up — getting your eyes on God. We have been trained to look within ourselves to find strength and guidance, but it is at times like this that we realize that is not the answer.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Apostle Paul wrote: “But He [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me” (CSB).

It is now, more than ever, that we need to find our strength in God, and it is not too late to do so. We see two kinds of prayers to God for help in the Bible.

Many times, we are reminded of Psalm 46 where the psalmist prays, “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” That, however, may not be where you are. You don’t feel that confident, and you don’t feel that connected to God.

In Psalms 4, 5, and 13, we see prayers of desperation, pleading with God to come near, to hear and answer. Maybe that is where you are, and God brought you here, so you will call out to Him.

In James 4, we are told that when we draw near to God in humility, He will draw near to us. It is a promise you can count on. Then you can find yourself praying out of the confidence seen in Psalms 27 and 46.

Look up, cry out to God, read His Word, and embrace the promises of James 4. It is then you will have peace and the strength to reach out.

The Rev. Todd Baker, pastor, First Baptist Church, Elimsport

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