Pastor’s Corner – Mind (and Spirit!) Over Matter
Now that spring has sprung, I have been trying to get outside more. It isn’t that I don’t like snow or winter, I just don’t like the cold as much as I enjoy the sun and warmth. I’ve learned to embrace this character flaw. Regardless, getting back outside and starting to run again has reminded me of a strange phenomenon I can’t quite get my head around.
I live in a hilly neighborhood and, no matter what distance I run, I deal with a significant change of elevation. The strange phenomenon is that the most difficult part of a hilly run happens immediately after you complete a hill. You read that right—the hardest part of a hilly run isn’t the hill itself, but immediately after the hill.
This is true of many things in life. Severe injuries are frequently less painful when they happen than they are shortly after that when the adrenaline wears off. The pains of grief are worse, after typically the initial 4-8 months after the loss, when the body lets down its guard. As people, we have a unique ability to be strong in the face of adversity to overcome the immediate challenge. Then, after the challenge has passed, we deal with the physical pain and heartache that we experienced during the trial.
Currently, we, as a culture, can see the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the pandemic coming to an end. But in reality, we should be prepared to experience the most difficult leg of the journey. Different people will struggle with different challenges just like we have throughout this journey. We should be on guard for the way our mind and body will start to give us conflicting messages.
Some of us will need patience as we eagerly await the end which can’t get here fast enough. Some of us will need perseverance as our mind and body tells us we can’t take this any longer; when the truth is the worst is behind us already! Kindness will be in short supply as we will be tempted to take out our frustrations with the pandemic on one another. Joy is a fantastic antidote to the sorrow and anger we will no doubt feel as we grieve the weight of what we have all gone through.
There are many more emotions and challenges that we may face, but the good news is that each challenge has an antidote in the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In these waning days of the pandemic, which will likely last well into the Fall, we will need the Holy Spirit as much or more than last year. Our thoughts and emotions we have put on the back burner in order to cope with this pandemic will likely rise to the surface as the pandemic fades.
While this is an interesting and no doubt frustrating phenomenon, it isn’t new. Paul identifies these truths as he encourages the people in Corinth to run the race with endurance and discipline so they will finish well and not lose in the last moments (1 Corinthians 9). In Hebrews 12 Paul again reminds us to run the race of life and faith with endurance, just as Jesus endured the Cross and claimed the victory for us!
Finally, I want to remind each of us that through these challenges and hardships, God is STILL working and transforming these challenging and suffering times into positives in our life. Paul repeatedly reminds us of how God does this amazing miraculous work in Romans which brings up an excellent reminder for all of us. The best way to have our mind and soul overcome whatever is in front of us, including the lagging issues that surface, after the trial has ended, is to remain in God’s word! Nothing heals the soul and keeps us focused on the truth than that encouraging and inspiring word of our loving heavenly Father.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5