Soul Care

We are living through an unprecedented time in our world. For the first time, every resident of earth recognizes a common enemy: COVID-19.

With great joy, I’ve watched our church and many other nonprofits reach out and serve those in need. Many of you are donating food, reaching out to neighbors and dutifully carrying out other acts of kindness to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

But this is a difficult season for all of us, especially our senior adults, who are at higher risk and need to take extra precautions to stay healthy and safe, which often includes more isolation.

The devastation of the virus will be felt for quite some time, so continue to look for opportunities to serve and lean into how the Lord can use you. Let’s take a look at a few tips for soul care to help you push through being home-bound and isolated from personal connection.

First, read your Bible every day. (Thanks, Murphy, I didn’t think of this one!)

I am reading First Peter daily to grasp what Christians went through during a time of tremendous persecution in the early days of the church. Peter writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

I can have some dark thoughts if I’m not centered on God’s Word each day, especially when I’m isolated for long periods of time. Reading Scripture keeps anxiety away.

Someone said, “Anxiety is like a rocking chair; you stay busy, but you don’t go anywhere.”

I am not sure how long our stay-at-home restrictions will last, but a daily dose of Bible reading is good for our souls.

Pick a book of the Bible to read for the next 30 days. Read and re-read the same book; it will be amazing what the Holy Spirit will reveal to you. If you’re up to it, write down your thoughts and email them to me. I’d love to hear how the Lord speaks to you.

Second, get in a routine that encourages your heart and keeps your spirit alive.

To my surprise, the virus has hacked my love language of physical touch. It might sound creepy, but the Lord made me in such a way that interactions like hugs, handshakes, a handhold from a family member or a pat on the shoulder make me feel loved.

Now that I can’t shake hands or fist-bump anyone, I’ve redirected my energies to my second love language of words of affirmation. I love encouraging people to give their best and to lean into all that God has for them.

Chuck Swindoll says, “Discouragement drains courage from others. But encouragement pours courage into another person.”

Life is difficult. Why not share a kind word to lift the spirits of another person? Leverage your love language throughout the days of isolation. Search for ways to keep your heart fresh and alive so you can thrive, not just survive.

Third, connect with three people every day for the next 30 days. I believe our Heavenly Father wired us for connection with others. I am hearing that many seniors are connecting with other seniors by phone, text and email.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you want friends, you have to be a friend.”

Follow the nudges of your heart as people come to your mind. I am not sure, but we probably have at least a few more weeks of virus isolation. Make it a goal to connect with at least 30 people.

Bob Goff said, “We’re living letters. Every act of kindness makes our faith a little more legible.”

Hint: If texting, send a message like, “Thinking of you. I hope all is well.”

This message conveys your love and good wishes to the person you’re texting without forcing a response. Communication with them, whether it is a friend, neighbor, child or grandchild, will warm their hearts more than you know.

Lastly, rest on the promises of God. Search the Scriptures for promises that God has made to His people.

I read this quote the other day from Jonathan Stephens: “Let your experience of God’s goodness in the past feed your faith in his loving purposes for you now. While there is not a promise that we shall be delivered from all our trials and troubles, by faith we shall pass safely through them.”

In desperate times, we sometimes forget the goodness of God because we allow our circumstances to cloud our view of God. Take your focus back to today and give God your attention. Grab a notebook and write out all the times God has shown His mercy and grace to you. Make a gratitude list to remember all God has done for you in the past. Gratitude reflection gives us comfort and hope for the future. Our hope is in God alone.

Deuteronomy 31:6 is a great promise to get you started: “‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

To all my senior adults, I sure do miss seeing you all face-to-face and being with you during the week. I hold you all in my heart and pray for you daily. Blessings and love to all!

Murphy Belding is campus pastor of Southeast’s Chapel in the Woods Campus. Email him a mbelding@secc.org.