I read a U.S. News article last week that cited 2020 as the second most challenging year in the millennium rivaling 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks. We are approaching the end of 2020 and entering 2021 with the persistent COVID pandemic, nationwide political schisms, ongoing racial disparities, and the economic stress from everything previously mentioned.
As I sit at my laptop on Monday night writing this devotion, I am settling in for a 2-week quarantine here at home with my family. The director from my daughter’s daycare called earlier today to let us know that a child in my 2-year-old’s room tested positive for COVID-19. My mind is flooded with worry and many other distractions with an underlying fear of not knowing what the future holds for us.
But there is hope. God has always told his people that he has a plan. And, when God says there’s a plan in the Bible, that always comes with design, strategy, and a roadmap that God’s followers can’t always see, but it’s leading his people through the trials ahead.
In a time of anxiety like the ongoing events of 2020, we can pause and be reminded of the promises found at Pentecost in Acts 2, where we get a first-hand account of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
God the Person in the form of the Holy Spirit has come to be with us and go with us through the oncoming trials ahead. God was with the Hebrews when they blundered their way out of Egypt and he is with his followers today as we blunder our way through and out of a pandemic.
While there are many spiritual practices that can help lead us into the awareness of God’s promises in the scriptures, I have recently found that a good way to focus on Thanksgiving has been to meditate and memorize scripture.
In the first nine verses of chapter 1 in the book of Joshua, God reminds Joshua to be strong and courageous (1v6) and meditate on His word day and night (1v7). And, in verse 9, again God reminds Joshua to “be strong and courageous” with the assurance that God’s presence is with him,
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Memorizing these verses in Joshua and reflecting on the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence help reduce the anxieties all around.
Being surrounded by the presence of His community via a phone call, Facetime, Zoom, or a socially-distanced lunch allows us to let the trivial worries go and let the Holy Spirit’s presence free us to live and love on the people around us. Because that’s what matters!
Gracious and loving God, help me to take my anxious and worrisome thoughts captive and replace them with Your life-giving word. May it be a life-giving word that leads my heart into the depths of thanksgiving. Help me to embrace a strong and courageous life, knowing that Your presence is with me. Give me strength and courage to pursue You, knowing that You go with me everywhere.
Written by Matt Clay
Matt and his wife Joanna have two young daughters, Emery and Madisen. The Clays have been members of the Sheridan community since 2014.
Matt’s spiritual growth has been influenced by the teaching of the late Dallas Willard, which led Matt to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual Formation from Spring Arbor University.
Matt works full-time in the financial industry and believes that God has called him to be a steward of His grace and presence in the marketplace.