Locked down - look up (to God)
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Rebecca shares some reflections from lockdown, as well as what she has learnt from and since the first level 4 lockdown last year. Ultimately, we can be encouraged that God is still good.
Broken world: upheaval
The last few weeks have certainly been an upheaval, but since that upheaval looks like most of us just spending a lot more time at home—something we have done before—I’m optimistic that we have all found ways, even small ways, to manage this change.
Given the current outbreak, I assume most of us keep a closer eye on the news, phones held a little more closely, checking for the next case update. With that, we might be taking in more information and ‘stuff’ from the news, social media, and the internet in general. Hearing more opinions, more ‘takes’ and more food for thought. This can be become a lot for our minds to process and manage and can take its toll on us mentally.
We also have limited modes of expression in this time, whether that is creative or physical or otherwise. I think this can be something that we struggle with while not necessarily realizing that it is affecting us.
We aren’t perfect and we aren’t one dimensional. We have layers and different sides of our personality. We each hold different views across many matters and sometimes our own views on closely-related things can even be contrasting or differ slightly. There isn't just one or two ways of looking at things sometimes.
We all make mistakes. We get it wrong. Sometimes we have good intentions and we still get it wrong. Sometimes we don’t have good intentions and we react out of places of hurt and insecurity. Sometimes we have strength and courage, and we can do it all. Sometimes we have quiet strength and small courage, and we do the very least we have to and that is enough.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we have expectations on others, whether we realise it or not.
Broken world: overwhelm
Sometimes it takes a lockdown for these things to be revealed. Stuck at home all day, with perhaps just our thoughts. No easy distractions, no ability to just ‘pop out to the shops’ or go out and about to keep busy. Lockdowns can also kind of act like a microscope - heightening and highlighting various things.
Lockdowns, in some ways, force us into the small life. But we are hyper-connected to the world and perhaps in the pursuit of some semblance of community we use our phones more, we scroll social media—perhaps even doom scroll—and we find ourselves overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with bad news because we live in a broken world. That is a reality we must accept and anticipate, but with an underlying sense of hope, and we aim to look at this through an eternal lens.
Overwhelmed with misinformation, disinformation and fear. It is scary what people post when really it is they themselves who are scared. The sense that everyone from Big Pharma to the government is out to get them. Practices and processes that are ordinarily quite typical in our pre-Covid lives become huge topics of debate and questioning and uncertainty.
We’re in lockdown in our homes, but with our phones and the negativity, it can feel like a trap. This is perhaps even more heightened when we don’t know how long we might need to be in lockdown for.
Ways through it
So how do we get through all of this? I would suggest the following:
• Discernment - through the noise and information and misinformation. Discerning what is truly wisdom from what is insecurity or fear expressed as wise (but un-informed) concern.
• Learning from last time - For me this is has been huge. I struggled with level 4 last March/April because I didn’t pick myself up and move forward. Learning that I need daily exercise and to leave the house, a shower in the morning to fully wake up, making a small plan for the day and week. These really helped me through the early stages of lockdown and while I haven’t quite managed a walk every day (sometimes the weather hasn’t been that great), knowing I have the tools in my toolkit to get me through is immensely helpful.
• Anticipation - my mentor taught me this. And I think it has helped me to mature. What this means is that while we are optimistic and hopeful about the future and life ahead of us, being aware that things can go wrong and anticipating that life doesn’t always go to plan has been super helpful for me. I think it means we can be a little less disappointed and a little better at ‘bouncing back’ to then move forwards.
• Acceptance - accepting the reality and dealing with it. Sometimes we are tired, and sad things and bad things happen and we can feel weighed down by our to do lists and all the work we need to do, reading or watching news can be tough. In those moments, cry if you need to, find someone to embrace you, take a break. Accepting how you actually feel in that moment, acknowledging why and doing what you need for comfort can be so helpful.
But ultimately, what is helpful is that knowing above all that God is still good. This is the message of Daniel chapter 3, verse 18 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego declare that even if God does not rescue them from a burning furnace, that God is still God and they will not serve any other idols.
If not, God is still good
I’ve written before about how I have learnt a lot about God’s hope over the last year. And lately, it is been revealed to me how this links in with Daniel chapter 3, verse 18: if not, God is still good.
Aimee Walker, a New Zealand-based Bible study writer, describes hope as a “confident expectation of God’s goodness”. I see this linking to the message of Daniel chapter 3, verse 18 - if not, God is still good.
If everything falls apart, if events are cancelled or postponed, if tragic events happen, if the rain pours and the floods come, if people we love are hurting—physically or mentally—and if social media is an overwhelming place - God is still good and we can place our hope in Him.
An additional verse that gives me hope is Ephesians chapter 3, verses 20-21. Another person, who is not officially my mentor but teaches me an abundance, shared with me that this is one of their favourite verses.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”—Ephesians chapter 3, verses 20-21
To me it speaks of hope, and of praising God. It instills a sense of confidence that God can do more, and greater, than I can and that He is within us, which gives us that confidence.
Hope in God
I find that focusing on hope and God’s goodness gives me the small encouragement I need to look forward with optimism and to see this time as one that will pass.
I also think that lockdowns draw us into a small life, where it is just us and God. We might have more time and so we want to meet with God more. Or perhaps we need our God-times get us through the turmoil of lockdown. Maybe instead, when everything is stripped back, God still remains in, above, and through all things and we see His presence more clearly in this time.
A small life with God - where we look at Him knowing He is not to blame for the broken world but that He loves us still and His love and Hope can sustain us. I think this is what can get us through these intense times. The reality of the world can sometimes be confronting, tiring, and discouraging, but the bigger reality is that we are in a relationship with the God of hope.
When we focus on our small lives with God, at least for me, the overwhelmingness seems a little less overwhelming.
Praise God that He is always good, always patient, always there for us.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.