Unprecedented and uncertain seem to be the two most popular words during this season. During these days, how do we live in such a way that we seize this moment in history and live out the calling God has for us? As I was thinking about these questions, I turned to Psalm 112 and read these verses: “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous” (Psalm 112:4).
Life sure feels dark for a lot of you right now. According to a recent news report, 30 million people here in the United States alone have lost jobs. That staggering number does not include the job losses from those of you who are reading this overseas. As you read this, you may not know how you will pay your bills in the upcoming months. Or, because of social distancing, you might feel lonely and isolated. If you’ve struggled with depression or anxiety in the past, the current events have surely stirred those up again.
In the scriptures, the word “darkness” often represents either sin or seasons of difficulty and uncertainty. In Psalm 112:4 the word “darkness” speaks to uncertainty. These are seasons where you are not sure what step to take next. The word “light” in scripture often is used as a metaphor for truth, purity, or direction. For example, Psalm 119:105 teaches, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Light on our path implies wisdom for the direction we are supposed to go. Think about it. When it’s dark, and the path is narrow, it’s a bit scary to take the next step. It reminds me of being on a very narrow path hiking with Steve when we were in Italy a few years ago. There was a steep drop off on the one side and because I have some height fright, I felt terrified and paralyzed. Steve turned around to me and said, “Hold my hand, and we’ll take the next step together.” We finished that hike one step at a time. But I can’t imagine doing that hike in the dark if we were unable to see!
During these days, when the path feels steep and dark, how do we take the next step? The Lord promises to shed light on the path as we embrace 3 attitudes which are all mentioned in Psalm 112:4.
Graciousness. As the days of quarantine continue it’s easy for crankiness to set in, right? For example, an “unmasked” man in the store the other day where Steve was shopping scolded a woman who had a mask on to get away from him! While that’s a tiny example, we as the followers of Jesus need to keep a grip on grace. No one likes to be scolded. Let go of a critical attitude. Instead, offer grace. Understand that some are scared out of their minds. Simply love people and point them to Jesus.
Compassion. Offer compassion for those who are less well-off than you. Waitresses have lost jobs. Retailers have lost jobs. Offer compassion to them. Be compassionate with those who are suffering. Offer empathy. Empathy is “the ability to identify with another person’s feelings and circumstances.” When you offer empathy, you are able to imagine what it looks like to walk another’s path. Create the space to listen to someone else’s story and how this current crisis is impacting them. Ask questions and offer statements that demonstrate you understand that this is a tough season for them. Never offer pious platitudes.
Righteousness. In addition to graciousness and compassion, keep your heart right. How? Practice a daily check-in. Ask yourself at least once a day, “How is my attitude? Am I complaining? Am I cranky with others? Am I harboring bitterness towards those who have hurt me?” Ah, friend, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Suffering and hardship are a part of our spiritual transformation. Feel the pain of it, but keep clinging to Jesus’s hand during it. He is the one who is gently speaking, “Take my hand and we’ll take the next step together.”
Friend, I’m praying for
you during these times. I also want to let you know that I am opening up my
coaching practice. Coaching can help you take the next step when you’re unsure
of which way to go. Currently, I am offering three types of coaching:
Communications coaching for writers and speakers. Leadership coaching for those
who are in positions of leadership. Life coaching for those who feel “stuck”
and want to move forward spiritually or emotionally. If you’re interested,
please contact me at email@example.com
 Becky Harling, How to Listen, So People Will Talk, (Bloomington, MN., Bethany House, 2017), 90.