Matters of Faith: Maintaining Your Sanity

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:1-2 NKJV

During this unprecedented time of the coronavirus pandemic, one of our biggest challenges is to maintain good mental health. Do you remember the ad for historically Black colleges and universities, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste?” Well, whenever there’s a crisis that changes normal behavior, maintaining mental focus is of critical importance. We can waste precious aspects of our mind trying to normalize disrupted routines. It can cause any number of negative reactions, some of which can be detrimental to the mental and emotional wellbeing of an individual.

Social distancing has created an entirely new conversation that we have never had before. We are all being asked to confine ourselves to our homes and leave only to shop for essential things like food and other necessities. For others, who have been deemed essential workers, social distancing can be difficult to put into practice, in addition to the fact that they run the risk of contracting the virus and/or bringing it back home to their families. Add to that the ever-increasing death rate and the proximity of those deaths to people we all know, and we see the stress and anxiety levels rise on a daily basis.

The Apostle Paul steps in just when it seems that there is no hope. He writes this letter to the church in Rome way back in AD 56 that has as its primary focus the righteousness of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This epistle contains general teachings applicable to Christians throughout history, and very applicable to us today. In this 12th chapter, Paul opens with a strong admonition to his readers to present their bodies as living sacrifices that would be holy and acceptable to God, declaring that it is a reasonable thing to do. The next verse is of significant importance because being in conformity to this world is being at odds with God. In order to be in conformity with God, you have to be transformed by the renewing of your mind! That means that you cannot get caught up by the things that happen in the world. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). This kind of cheer can only come if your mind has been renewed. That is a transformation from the inside that shows up on the outside. Spiritually, to renew is to be reborn or converted. Once reborn, you become a new person; your persona is renewed, your behavior is renewed, even your appearance is renewed; “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5 KJV).

Paul is urging us not to fashion our lives after the patterns of the world. When others are being pessimistic about the changes and even the deaths around us caused by COVID 19, we must remember that we are being renewed day-by-day (2 Cor. 4:17); that no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 57:17), and most important of all, no one is ever lost to us because we know where they are! Whatever tribulation takes the life of our earthly bodies, we can remain in good cheer because our renewed minds know we have a home not made by hands, a home that is eternal in the heavens. Everyone who has been renewed in minds can’t lose, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21 KJV).                                                                           

We can maintain our sanity in insane conditions if we are renewed in our minds. The Apostle John perfectly states “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:2-4).

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of  JLR Church Financial Strategy and Consulting, an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, and creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” – Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen and view on Matters of Faith on Facebook.

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