Women During the Covid-19 Crisis: Building Resilience to respond in Godly Ways
Dr. Reupah Philips Ph.D.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about overwhelming, intense, and negative emotions for everyone. No one had anticipated the year 2020 to turn out this way. Most certainly, nobody had hoped to witness the global devastation and adjust to the drastic changes of the lockdown lifestyle. Especially as women, since God has created us with the unique ability to invest in relationships and carry the load of our loved ones, we unknowingly absorb the surrounding sentiments and feel weighed down during this crisis, whereas a few of us are able to distance ourselves from the struggles of this new normal.
Let us glean from the lives of the women in the Scripture, who found opportunities in times of crisis, to build resilience and chose to respond in godly ways.
Future lies in the hand of God even in crisis
How can we as women of faith, daily follow the proverbial example of the unabashed women of God?
Proverbs 31:25 (NLT) says that a virtuous woman is, “clothed with strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future”. The Word of God commends a woman who is unmoved by uncertainty, while the world considers her foolish. As women of faith, we know that the wisdom of the world is unreliable to us, as 1Cor 3:19a (AMP) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness (absurdity, stupidity) before God.” Worldly wisdom informs us that security of life comes from safety deposits and climbing up the social ladder, yet how quickly this illusion of security has vanished with the rise of the pandemic! The opportunity that this pandemic gives us is the reminder that our security and hope is in hands of a God who holds tomorrow. Our true security is based on the eternal unchanging truth of God’s faithful character. Let that truth sink in and dispel any unbelief.
Mary, mother of Jesus, faced the crisis of social rejection, when the angel of the Lord visited her, yet she chose to surrender when she said “let it be to me according to your word” in Luke 1:38 (ESV). Mary demonstrated a spirit of surrender because she believed that God would deliver her from her troubles. In this season of crisis, the first step for us to take as women, is to confess in repentance our unbelief which is displayed by worry and panic, followed by our declaration of trust and belief in the unchanging, faithful characterof God. “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” – Psalms 34:19 (NIV). When we believe that God cares for us and keeps his promises, we can accept His sovereign plans for usand surrender our lives to God.This means that we stop striving, let go of the urge to ‘know it all’ and give up the control, because we know our future lies in the hand of God.
Feelings of negativity are normal during crisis
Ruth’s story begins with the tragic news of her husband’s death. We can only imagine the turmoil she endured as a young widow, having lived each day, with no assurance of tomorrow. Ruth’s circumstances were so unfavorable she could have justified calling herself “Mara” (Bitter), as Naomi did in Ruth 1:20. Although the passage does not mention Ruth’s plight in detail, we can take the creative liberty to read between the lines. Picture a tearful Ruth relocating her life to a new city, caring for her elderly mother-in-law, whilst working in the heat of the fields to make ends meet. Could Ruth have faced
moments of doubting God? Could she have felt a sense of abandonment or deep loneliness? Could she have pitied herself as she looked at other women? Yes! Ruth dealt with tough emotions just as any other women in her situation. This brings home the point that as believers, we are not immune to the tough emotions of life.
As emotions are running high during this current crisis, the second step we can take as women is to acknowledge our tough emotions to ourselves and to God. What does God think about our feelings during this pandemic? Is He disappointed by our less than perfect responses? Never! This is simply a misconception that stifles the glory of God from shining in the darkness. Psalm 139:12 (ESV) says, “Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” God is more than capable of handling our shortcomings, he invites us to offer him our unpleasant sides as well. It is not a sin for you to tell God how you feel, He validates your emotions, just as He saw Hagar’s unspoken struggles and cared about her broken heart. David too, expressed his negative emotions in the Psalms; he vented out healthily to God believing that He is gentle and kind. Even the emphasis of Ruth’s life, was not on whether she struggled or not, rather on what she did with her feelings. All these examples remind us that our weaknesses give us more opportunities to experience the glorious strength of our God.
As precious daughters, we are invited to boldly come to our Father and present our tears, lost dreams and heartbreaks. Our loving Father’s ears are inclined to our cries and longs to hear us, even in our brokenness. Mathew 12:20 (NIV), “It is bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.” He is our counselor and comforter,who understands and empathizes with us genuinely. Psalm 34:18 (NIV) “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”Therefore, let us
acknowledge our emotions by expressing them freely to our God and beware of the lies that tell us to hide ourselves from God when He is El-Roi – the God who sees you.
Faith above feelings helps to wade through crisis
Consider Ruth’s response, “your God will be my God”in the midst of flailing emotions. How was she able to respond with incredible faith and serve Naomi when she could have been miserable and selfish? This was possible because, she entrusted her future in God’s hands and presented her pain before God. Ruth did not allow her feelings to control her however, she stepped up in faith. Ruth exhibited her faith in trusting the God of impossibilities. God in turn honored her choice by enabling and empowering her to serve at a time when she could have been selfish. During the current crisis, we too have a choice to surrender ourselves before God and trust him for impossibilities in our life.
On acknowledging our devastating feelings to God, we could either be overwhelmed with fear or be gripped by faith.“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”Hebrews 11:6 (NIV). For those of us who are walking through the fiery trails of the pandemic, in losing our loved ones or being steeped in financial crisis, faith empowers us to believe in the God who does the impossible. Luke 1:37 (NIV)“For nothing will be impossible with God." His grace empowersus in the deepest valley of life, to be a blessing to others. The greatest strength and victory can only rise from the deepest place of weakness and surrender. These truths unfold in Ruth’s story, which was far from perfect, however we witness a perfect God intervene to do the impossible.
Faithful steward in the midst of crisis
Apart from affecting many lives, the pandemic has prevented us from freely connecting with our loved ones. In every walk of life, being a single woman, newlywed, working mother, empty nester or grandmother, the restrictions to stay at home can be frustrating.
Even Esther, found herself in similar circumstances when the shocking news about the killing of her people, the Jews. The odds were stacked against her, yet she took on the challenge to fight for her people’s lives by being a faithful steward of her resources (which included her position, her supportive maidens, her social influence, her time, her voice). Her proactive response of a three-day fasting was a powerful weapon that prevented the first potential Holocaust. Abigail too, was a fearless woman with a proactive spirit who used her resources wisely when in chaos. In these desperate times, we as women still have a great purpose to step up as faithful stewards of the resources we have been blessed with.
How can we fulfill our purpose while staying at home during this crisis? Abiding closely with the Lord, will enable us to fulfil our stewardship unto God during this pandemic. The Lord will empower you to use your voice and wisdom like Esther and Abigail in chaos and crisis. Praying and fasting is a prudent way to intercede for the people that are hurting. We can attend to the needs of others using the various resources we have including our good health, sound mind, internet access, social network, social influence, technological knowledge, talents, and much more.
Caring for your physical and emotional well-being is an important part of being a faithful steward during this global pandemic to fulfill the God-given purpose of loving others. The word of God has commanded us to love others as we love ourselves, which means we cannot pour out love being empty vessels. Therefore, it is necessary for us to fill ourselves with God’s love if we desire to love and serve others. We should take the time to care for ourselves to serve and care for others. Self-care may look different for each of us, however, we can consider these basic tips to ensure that our vessel is overflowing with God’s love: Prioritizing sleep, fixing a time for exercise, setting aside time for fun activities, counting blessings, thinking beneficial thoughts, meeting with a counsellor, bible journaling, being kind to ourselves, having boundaries with technology and relationships, meditating on scriptural affirmations and rejecting false accusations from the enemy. It is important for us to review how our self-care is during this pandemic.
Face the challenges during crisis with boldness and tact
Usually when we are in crisis it is difficult for us to be bold and tactful. The wife of Nabal, Abigail was stuck with the foolish decisions and harsh behaviours of her husband, yet she was a woman of good understanding. She faced the challenges by depending on God and used the opportunity to rise above being trapped in the crisis. This conveys to us that even though we find ourselves stuck with difficult individuals at home who make poor choices, we can use the opportunity to respond with boldness and discretion depending on the Lord.
Just as Abigail was bold and courageous in the face of a crisis, let us as women be wise when dealing with the pandemic. Here are few ways we can do so:Educating ourselves about Covid-19 precautions, avoid excessive exposure to fake news, discerning in the spirit about which church activities you need to commit (to avoid zoom fatigue), encouraging those around us who feel hopeless, depending on God’s protection when we step outside, financially supporting those who are badly affected, creating a support group, avoiding self- isolation, and following a balanced routine.
As women of the faith, nothing is impossible, we are more than conquerors and Jesus has granted us the greatest certainty of all i.e. eternal life. When we receive these promises and truths from the Word of God, we can be that woman who laughs at tomorrow knowing her God holds her future. When we tune in to our emotions and present them to God, He can empower us to rise above our feelings in faith. When we proactively take up the challenge and be a faithful steward of our resources,we can face this pandemic with boldness and discretion. Finally, in doing all these things, we can build resilience to respond in godly ways, as women during the Covid-19 crisis.