“Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.”
This was Teresa of Avila’s bookmark. She was a saint who lived in the 16th century, author of two books, The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, and the founder of a new order of nuns. Her words so resonated with me that when I read them for the first time last week, I copied them on a 3×5 card and taped it to my bathroom mirror. Now I see them often during the day. And they remind me that God is in charge of the universe, of this earth, of me and you. I don’t mean to say that He caused this pandemic, but that diseases, even pandemics, are a part of our existence, like other challenges, and that God can use what happens in our lives to inform and transform us, if we are willing.
I am sure that there is a lot of anxiety out there today, a great desire to get back to normal when we don’t know what that new “normal” will look like. And then we remember Teresa’s words, her prayer: “God alone is unchanging…God alone is enough.” And something deep inside of us settles and affirms that God is in charge here and that we can count on Him.
I pray most for those who have the virus, the ones, professional medical personnel and family, who are caring for them, EMTs and the police, the teenagers and young adults who find their lives on hold without any certainty about college in the fall and/or careers they hoped to enter. I pray for the scientists who are working on a vaccine to protect us. And for those who have lost their jobs. I pray for the poor and those without good access to medical care, especially all who are more susceptible to this virus because of lack of good health or age or lack of access to good care. I put us all in God’s hands, knowing that He will provide what we need.
Now that doesn’t mean that He meets our wants. He’s more interested in our spiritual health and healing and our needs than He is in our immediate desires. He looks at the long-term trajectories of our lives and shapes our lives based on the purpose He assigned each of us. If we are open to Him at all, He will lead us to that purpose, to the fulfillment of who He created us to be. As we trust Him and follow His desires for us, we live more and more into the fulfillment of all that we are.
We can use the time and isolation of these times to reflect on the deeper issues of our lives. For example:
Who am I really? And what is my deepest longing in this life?
Am I ignoring or suppressing a good part of who I am in my rush to fulfill society’s desires for me? What would I love to do if only I had the time?
It is interesting to me that in this age of coronavirus we have simple traded one set of anxieties for another. Before its onset, we were rushing around, almost every minute accounted for, focused on achieving our society’s aims. And now we are anxious about getting the virus, keeping our jobs, if we can, and what the new “normal”—when this is finally over—will look like.
And so we return to Teresa’s words. “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing upset you. Everything changes…” What she is inviting herself and us into is the peace of God “which surpasses all understanding”—that is, it is beyond the mind to grasp. She is highlighting the fruit of the Spirit:” love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “ When we face all that life offers us expressing the fruit of the Spirit, we are resting in God’s arms, knowing that He has our best interests at heart and is taking care of us. And we experience that deep peace of God. For “God alone is enough.”
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I anxious and troubled by this stay-at-home period? Or am I at peace, knowing that we are in God’s hands with His care for us our primary reality? Can I truly say, with Teresa of Avila, that whoever has God lacks nothing? What would I have to give up to achieve that peace?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are expressing the fruit of the Spirit, especially “the peace that passes all understanding.” May we allow God to take care of us and drop all our worries. May we live in His love.
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 Philippians 4:7
 Galatians 5:22-23