Perhaps that seems like an odd title, so I’ll try and explain! For the last six months or so, with all the Covid restrictions and changes that have happened in my life, I have really felt the lack of, I don’t know, general stability, purpose and Christian fellowship in my life. I find that this sense of a lack of whatever it may be drives me back to the Lord. It reminds me that I need Him and that without a relationship with Him there is nothing to fill the void.
This isn’t always a smooth process where once I’ve felt and understood the sense of a lack, I turn immediately to the Lord. Sometimes it takes time to work out exactly what it is that I feel that I’m lacking. Perhaps there is a general sense of unease or joylessness. Where is that coming from? What is the source? This pandemic has stripped away those things that were giving me focus and purpose. Most of these things could be described as “good” things, but when they are taken away, it exposes what is left behind. If that is a sense of inadequacy, does that mean that I was finding my purpose in these activities rather than in the Lord Himself?
Over the course of the pandemic restrictions I decided to leave my home church, where I had been going for almost 40 years since my early childhood. It wasn’t something that only occurred to me then, it was something that I’d thought about on and off for years. My children who are aged 16 and 20 had both stopped coming to church and my husband found attending church hard. I felt that perhaps if I went to a believing church of a different denomination it might be easier for at least one member of my family to come along. Of course, joining a new church in a pandemic is not easy, and it has taken a lot of prayer and perhaps courage to step into a new setting where I barely know anyone.
At my old church, people (well, some people!) knew who I was and I was trusted to do certain things, such as leading a small group of ladies in a Bible study. Where I have gone I am an unknown quantity, and apart from meeting with the minister a couple of times and having brief chats with a few people, that remains the case. I look forward to the autumn when more opportunities will be open to me for getting to know others.
Over the many months of the pandemic restrictions it has dawned on me that although I have done this and taken a step of faith into a new church setting, it may change nothing at home. I will probably still be the only practising Christian in my home unless God does step in and perform a miracle. Of course this is a real possibility, but I am powerless to make it happen. That made me feel quite downhearted, and I felt the complete lack of ability to do anything about that. Where could I go with these feelings? Maybe the fact that I thought I could change things myself shows that I wasn’t trusting God in the first place. I have to accept that I have done all that I can now, and other than continuing to pray for my loved ones and using opportunities wisely, it is out of my hands. It was hard to come to terms with those feelings, but I know that God is ultimately in control, and that thought comforts me.
I have had the benefit of attending an online BSF class, so I enjoyed some months of fellowship and Bible study through that provision. I have also enjoyed reading a couple of books and going through them with a Christian friend via the internet. We read firstly “None Like Him” by Jen Wilkin about the attributes of God that He alone has. I found it good to take my mind off self and the problems of this life and to focus on these attributes of God, including His omnipotence and sovereignty.
Secondly, we have been going through “Deeper Still” by Linda Allcock about the practise of Biblical meditation and how it can contribute to our growth as Christians and to our mental stability. I like that she is very real about the problems we can encounter in our lives, but encourages us to hide God’s word away in our hearts for the very purpose of helping us through those tough times and pointing us to Him.
I also read a book myself that I found very helpful, called “If Only…” by Jennie Pollock. The author is a single lady who had always wanted to marry and have a family, yet has found herself remaining single thus far, beyond the years when having a family would be possible. She writes honestly and movingly about her own feelings and also the situations of other people whose lives have turned out to be very different than they would have hoped. Some people find themselves floored by ill health and simply unable to do all that they hoped they would do in life. Some couples are unable to have much longed-for children and have to come to terms with that. Yet other couples have children but later find that they will have life-long needs and need to cope with that. Really, many of us could say that our lives have not turned out as we would have hoped. Where do we go with all of this? Do we allow ourselves to grow bitter and jealous of others who do have what we long for? Or do we look to the unfailing God who promises to be with us and never leave us? These are hard things to accept and come to terms with, yet the Bible is realistic about our struggles. It doesn’t say anywhere that if we follow Him all our problems will go away and life will be plain sailing. In fact, Jesus says,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
That seems to me to be the only solution to life’s “lacks”. Look to the Overcomer Himself, who gave up so much in order to give us that new life which not even the worst circumstances can take away. His love for us is an everlasting love, and we can never plough its depths or understand its breadth, but we can praise and thank Him for His sacrifice and all that this means for us.
If we are at a time where no words can really express all that we are feeling, the Bible says that “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). That is also such an encouragement, to know that the Helper is with us, doing just that. I really don’t know how many people will make it to the end of this article, but thank you for reading and I pray that you would know God’s blessing in your life however you are feeling right now, whether the way ahead looks clear or is hidden from you. We can trust Him more than we will ever know.