A global pandemic has flipped what we once knew upside down. The security we once had is gone. And just when we think things are going to get a little better, they get a little worse. Or a lot worse. Instead of opening back up, businesses are closing back down, sometimes for good. Instead of being brought back on the payroll after our furlough, we are told that the cut is now permanent. Instead of planning vacations once again, we are canceling them once more. Instead of hearing of one person somewhere who tested positive for COVID, we now know many people who have tested positive. And in some cases, we are that person. We listen to experts only to realize they contradict each other, and it only increases our unrest. Hoping for answers, we are left with more questions. Longing for hope, we are left with more fear.
But it’s not just a global pandemic that is causing this unrest. The unimaginable murders of black men and women at the hands of police have forced us to wrestle with systemic injustices that are more real and prevalent than we would like to admit. Rightful demands for change have led to daily protests. Frustration and exhaustion at times have led to rioting and looting. Tempers flare with people desperately trying to hold onto a system that has oppressed people of color in ways unseen to many. Statues fall, flags are removed. Many wonder if true lasting change can actually take place.
In the midst of it, personal unrest rises. As people continue to be socially distanced from others, anxiety increases. Our needs for personal connectedness go unmet and loneliness sinks in. We worry about our job security, our financial security, and our future. Doubt sets in. Uncertainty takes over. We wonder if we can count on anything anymore.
In the midst of this unrest on so many levels we hear the words of the Psalmist, “Return to your rest, O my soul. For the Lord has been good to you.”(Ps. 116:7)
We will never find rest by returning back to the way things were. Let’s be honest those things always had unrest in them anyway. Rather, the Psalmist says, the only way we will ever find rest again is to return to the One who gives us rest: God.
That sounds so simple yet is so hard. It means finally giving up the illusion that we actually control things. Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “You are afraid to surrender because you don’t want to lose control. But you never had control; all you had was anxiety.” So many of us have been trying to control things that we can never control and have never been able to control.
Rest is found in surrender.
It is believing that God is still for you even in the unrest. It is remembering that God has been, as the Psalmist says, “good to you”, and he will continue to be good to you, especially now.
But how? How do we practically live in that goodness and find that rest? Instead of looking at all the things that we don’t know or don’t have, we celebrate the good things we do have. In this season of unrest, one of the most transformative things we can do is write out, maybe even each day, a gratitude list. Get specific. Write down the things God has given to you and continues to give to you in this season. Specifically spell out where you see the goodness of God in your life, in big ways and small ways.
When you do that and add to that list day after day, you will see that God is indeed still for you, even now, especially now. Soon the unrest, while it still may be real, will give way to the rest that has always been yours for the taking.