Filling out my children’s back-to-school forms this year has been anything but normal.
In the week leading up to the deadline, I was bouncing between choices for our girls’ elementary schooling. My husband and I talked over our options so many times, and I even consulted with friends and listened to their reasoning.
Parents, this is one of the most difficult back-to-school season we have ever faced.
Usually at this time of year we are gearing up to get back to dependable routines. We look forward to beloved pastimes at our kids’ schools and the sense of belonging in those communities.
Instead, we’re grappling with sending our kids into unfamiliar and likely ever-changing environments at school, embarking on a new online academy, or choosing to dive into teaching our children ourselves at home.
Though the circumstances are indeed unique this time around, we’ve all faced our fair share of difficult choices in life.
Years ago, my husband and I made drastic changes to our lifestyle in order to get out of debt on one income. Part of the changes involved downsizing our house, and we were faced with two choices at the beginning of our journey — one seemed safe while the other was more a leap of faith. Either choice was fraught with difficulty, and I remember feeling that we had to make the right choice or be doomed.
We made our choice, and I was humbled by how quickly doubt and uncertainty sprang up. I thought we had made the “right” choice, but I battled uncertainty for several months. It would be years before we learned the ultimate fruit of that one decision. But the lesson I learned in the midst of uncertainty was that I had to cling to God for any hope of steadiness. When I wasn’t able to hold it together, God did it for me.
I look back to that time because it was a personal primer for what we are dealing with now on a macro level. We hear people talking about doing “the next right thing,” but sometimes that next thing just isn’t clear.
The good news is that this isn’t about making the right decision. There is no right decision. It’s about trusting God with the decision we have made.
This notion can be hard. Often, I want someone to just tell me in plain black and white what exactly I need to do. But that kind of living does little good in producing strong faith. Trust isn’t about emotions but obedience.
As Christ-followers we ask for peace in the midst of uncertainty. We seek him in Scripture and in our biblical community. And then, in faith, we trust God with what we can’t predict or control.
Ultimately, this is what Christians should do with every decision, every day, pandemic or no pandemic.
God is the same. Always.
Listen to what Isaiah tells us about God:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
– Isaiah 26:3
I love the circular idea of this. God keeps me in peace as I look to him. I trust him because he sustains me in peace and because he is everlasting. This shows a connection between God and me. It’s only when I pull away from God that this circle is broken and my peace falters.
But God does not pull away. He is the one who sustains me. My job is to go back to him when I have gone astray.
The answer is right there in black and white.
Though current circumstances are more challenging than usual, our God has not changed. He will give us the same measures of peace, faith, and trust as he has always done when we ask. He will give us direction as we make difficult choices.
So, let’s continue the dialogue with him in prayer, asking him for these intangible gifts.
Let’s seek to understand more of his everlasting nature in the pages of Scripture, building our faith in him.
Let’s lean on our biblical community for encouragement and camaraderie when doubt darkens our minds.
And let us not abandon our ultimate hope in Christ who has paid our penalty at the cross so that we can have this peace that God so freely and abundantly wishes to give us.
God is there, unchanging, for the one who keeps his mind on him.