Week 2 - Rejoice
"The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name." [Exodus 15:2-3]
I love both this song and scene in the Prince of Egypt. The acknowledgement of the difficulty, the focus on hope and the rejoicing after the challenge has ended is, for me, so powerful. And, in our current circumstances - so vitally important.
When times get challenging, our brains are designed to focus on the challenge - on the threat - as a way to protect ourselves. When you think about it, it's an important survival mechanism. After all, if you found it easy to get distracted when running from a landslide, you probably wouldn't survive.
However, in times of chronic stress, it is quite easy for us to remain focused on our metaphorical landslide, even after it has ended and we are standing in a safe valley. The Israelite's could have focused on big scary thoughts like "what if the Egyptians change their mind" (and, ultimately they did!) or small scary thoughts like "where are we going to get food" or "where are we going to sleep". But, instead they went - "Yes! We are free! Praise God. Rejoice!"
Praise God. Rejoice
King David is another excellent example of someone who takes the time to rejoice and praise God. The Psalms are full of verses where David recognizes and honors God, celebrating in the freedom he has experienced through him. He speaks directly to God, singing, praying and playing music to honor him.
Similarly, so should we. While the risk of COVID isn't entirely over, the time of greatest challenge is starting to end. Church will be transitioning back to in-person services shortly, we are able to return to work and socialise, and the number of new community transmitted cases in NSW is low to none. We are in a safe valley and it's time to breathe. Look for the positives ("I can do a workout in the gym!") rather than the negatives ("The sports stadiums still cannot be full!"). Talk to your friends and family about other non-COVID related topics (e.g. "My sourdough bread is as good as the one you buy at the local bakery"). Do uplifting, relaxing activities such as picnics, getting a massage, or spending time in physical proximity with those you love.
Most importantly, praise God. Read a psalm (or two). Put on some worship music. Play an instrument. Pray. However you honor God, take some time this week to do it.