Simple things—like going to the grocery store or spending time with friends—may seem more complicated these days.
Depending on where you live, stores and restaurants may be operating at limited capacity with curbside service or takeout only options. Businesses you rely on may have closed temporarily, or for good.
If you have been to the doctor lately, you probably had your temperature taken before you even got into the office. And hand sanitizer is everywhere. So are masks.
It’s clear that across the country we are in an unusual season. And there is no end date. Because no one really knows when the pandemic will be over or what the “new normal” will look like.
Limbo—noun. A state of uncertainty.
Most of us have experienced some degree of limbo in our lives.
Perhaps it was a season of unemployment or a house that stayed on the market too long.
Have you been through a difficult pregnancy? Felt unsure about a college or career choice? Sat beside a sick child or an ailing parent for days or weeks or longer?
Whatever the reason, most of us have lived through the uncertainty and the anxiety that accompanies not knowing what happens next.
And while it is rather unusual for an entire nation to experience a heightened level of uncertainty all together at the same time, it has happened before and we have survived. (World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and 9/11 come to mind…)
So how do we keep moving forward while living in limbo?
The Bible offers wisdom for living well in uncertain times. Consider these ideas:
The Apostle Paul wrote letters to the early churches. Those first century Christians lived under great oppression and did not know what the next day would bring, so Paul offered encouragement for dealing with anxiety and finding peace. These words could have been written to us today.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
In any circumstance, we can always think of people and things for which we are grateful. And giving thanks provides perspective. Then when we ask God for what we need, it’s like releasing our anxiety to him so he can replace it with peace.
When we are anxious, there’s nothing like spending time with God, breathing deeply, and soaking in the peace only he can offer.
It is a small but powerful act to speak words of kindness and affirmation.
Anxiety produces tension that can result in thoughtless or even harsh words. Those closest to us are often the recipients. Unkind words can lead to more anxiety from broken relationships. This can become a destructive cycle. So in this anxious and uncertain time, Proverbs offers us some wisdom.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
Would it improve your day to speak kind words to yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth in the morning? Could your spouse use some encouraging words over breakfast? Would it bless your children to consistently hear kind words throughout their day?
And how about the next door neighbor, the clerk at the grocery store, or anyone else you encounter?
Kind words are an antidote for anxiety. We can all use more kindness these days.
This verse from another one of Paul’s letters really says it all.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
You’ve probably heard some version of this old advice, “The best way to forget about your own troubles is to get busy helping someone else.” Paul would probably agree.
While social distancing may present challenges to reaching out, there are still plenty of ways to do good and serve others. And technology allows us to build community in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.
We will get through this. And the feeling of living in limbo won’t last forever.
How we choose to move forward now will determine the impact we make long after the pandemic is over.