“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This year I have felt hard-pressed in every way. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way. We have been in a pandemic for a year. As a result, it has been a year of feeling stuck, trapped, powerless and a significant loss of control.

I read recently more Americans have died due to the coronavirus than Americans during World War II. A sweet sister in Christ’s husband devastatingly died in his 40’s leaving her a widow with 3 children. Another dear friend of ours from church who has been perfectly healthy is hooked to a ventilator fighting for his life.

We are making it in the history books. I am feeling the exhaustion, the grief and the heaviness of this time. As a result, I find myself wanting to numb my emotions, watch mindless tv and make cynical jokes in my mind. My heart is weary, and I feel like I don’t have much to give.

Paul wrote Ephesians 5 in prison or under house arrest. Immoral lifestyles crept in where culture centered on the ancient temple of Diana with its pagan practices. Paul, in His weariness, urged believers to put away practices of their pre-Christian lives and to put on practices that reflected their new life in Christ.

Believers were experiencing pressures in the society to conform to the world. We are currently experiencing numerous pressures. The political environment and different social movements are so contentious it is hard to know how to walk wisely and think clearly in the midst of it.

Paul understood what it was like to go through hard times. However, He did not allow the hard times to cause Him to waver in His faith and His witness for Christ. Instead, He saw His weakness as an opportunity for God to show His power.  (2 Cor. 12:10)  It was only through God’s power He could withstand the hardships, have a steadfast mind and purpose, and so share the Gospel.

When we are hard-pressed, it is easy for us to make unwise choices. When we are fatigued, our tongue can become loose and we can become argumentative, opinionated and controlling. Addictions such as drinking, pornography, spending, and anything else that can numb the pain arises. It is only through God’s strength we can make wise choices such as living a life of godly love, self-control, integrity, faith and witness for Christ.

Draw near to Him in your weariness so you can find strength to shine His light in this very dark time. These times are a reminder we are one day closer to Christ’s return. Hold fast to His Word so your mind can be steadfast during an unstable time. Seek good, not evil. Be a person of peace. Stay connected to your church community even if it’s on Zoom.  Reach out for help if you need. May you experience God’s strength and grace in every moment of 2021.

~Edna Lee