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Finding peace and healing in times of unrest and distress

These are undoubtedly times of tremendous trials. The pandemic has not only brought about great loss but also has caused our lives to be even more complicated. We cannot go to see our elderly loved ones or receive visitors like we used to do. As a pastor, I have been limited in visiting hospitalized church members and those in nursing homes due to COVID-19 protocols. This is not a complaint, but rather a statement of how things are in this present time due to necessary precautions.

Additionally, many of us have canceled, postponed, or rearranged major life events such as weddings, graduations, or even funerals due to the virus. Proms, sports, parties, festivals, travel, and vacations also fell victim to the cancellation list in 2020, as did March Madness. I am thankful to see many of these things carry on in 2021. My family and I had booked a mountain lodge vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for last summer, but instead, we spent a getaway at a family member’s cabin on a country road near beautiful Pickens, West Virginia. While we had a wonderful, relaxing time, it was very different from what we had originally planned!

Add masks to everything, subtract large crowds, add extra sanitizer, subtract spectators at sporting events, add “virtual” and subtract “in-person” to work, school, and church whenever possible, add extra distance, subtract big family or church dinners, and the list goes on to the changes we have made. While life is vastly different now compared to how things used to be in the pre-pandemic times, we must remember that some things never change, and one of them is God’s love for us. God loves us, and God’s desire is to give us peace through his son Jesus Christ.

The first step to finding peace in our lives is to do what Jesus said and “repent and believe the good news,” (Mark 1:15). The good news is that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, turning away from sin and our own selfish ways and asking God to forgive us of our sins, while making a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ as a disciple (follower) of Christ, then God forgives us, saves us, and cleanses us (Romans 10:9; 1 John 1:9). Being saved is not a “one and done” kind of prayer, in which one prayer is prayed one time and then you are done for the rest of your life. We must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3). Go to a local church to find out more.

However, Christ died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again! Many Christians and churches around the world observe Lent, the 40 days taken to reflect and prepare before Easter, or the day of resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; Lent is often marked by fasting. The purpose of any fast is to draw near to God. During Lent, take time out of your busy schedule to quiet your heart and listen to the voice of God. God loves you and wants to give you abundant life (John 10:10).

However, sometimes it seems the burdens on our hearts are like heavy rocks we carry in knapsacks over our backs. When we are hurting, we tend to hurt others, or we turn to ungodly substances or habits for comfort. However, when we repent and believe, surrendering to Jesus, he gives us his peace, healing, and freedom. Then through prayer, God lightens our load. “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). Repent of sin, believe the good news, and receive the peace of God in your heart today!

Rev. Julie M. Davis is the pastor of Wayside UMC (Sunday worship at 8:30 AM at 35 Almond Way in Elkins), Otterbein UMC (www.otterbeinelkins.org with worship at 9:30 a.m. at 1100 S. Davis Ave. in Elkins, and on Zoom), and Phillips Chapel UMC (worship at 11:15 AM at 282 Jimtown Rd., Coalton). E-mail pastorjuliedavis@gmail.com or call 304-636-0569 with comments.

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