Time For God: May 15

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 3:1
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come…
Perilous times—pandemic seasons among them—provoke particular traits. Panic buying, hoarding, and survivalist tendencies take centre stage. News cameras film long line-ups at the stores. Empty shelves bear witness to stockpiling trends. Shops report runs on toilet paper; gun stores declare all ammunition is now sold out; some shoppers are social-media-shamed for buying up all of the meat in their local store.

Tight deadlines—bill payments, work assignments, tax returns, appointments, or special birthdays—weigh heavily. Making choices—car or bike? Organic or affordable? Functional or fancy fashion wear? Donate or sell my excess goods?—daily choices intensify stress. Pandemic pressures make our stress pot boil over.      

To call the present times the last days is not merely the prerogative of alarmists, film producers and conspiracy theorists. Quieter voices prevail. The Bible describes these in-between times—the time between Christ’s Ascension on the Mount of Olives and His soon return—as the last days. Today is one those last, perilous days.

The footnotes for today’s Focus verse offer another translation option. Last days can be rendered times of stress. Stress—on normal days—is part of the human condition. In pandemic times, abnormal stress prevails. The Apostle warns that in the last days perilous times—times of [abnormal] stress—will come. Our experience confirms it.

Like a magic beanstalk pandemic-stress grows rapidly. Rather than reaching to heaven it descends. Its roots drill down to a place of deepest darkness. Paul then describes the stress resulting from those who love themselves rather than God.

My days now include making routine Covid check-in calls. How are you bearing up? How do you get yourself unstuck? Who can you call for support? I listen. I offer support. I pray. Some tell harrowing stories. Others self-medicate. Many use relief behaviors that remove stress while distancing them from healthy outcomes. A soul in motion travels—toward or away from God. Faith builds a firm foundation for resting in God’s love …and relaxing in his care. It frees the soul from anxious fretting.

Today, quietly reflect on Longfellow’s rendering of words from St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb thee/Nothing affright thee/All things are passing;/God never changeth;/Patient endurance/Attaineth to all things;/Who God possesseth/In nothing is wanting;/Alone God sufficeth.
God of Creation, Sustainer of all that is, I place into our hands the things I cannot do. I seek your strength to accomplish only what you grant for me to do today. Amen.
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