- Joyce Suttin is a retired teacher and writer and lives in San Antonio, USA. Check out her blog at https://joy4dailyd­evotionals By Joyce Suttin

I didn’t realize how busy I was until I stopped. I didn’t really think about how important it was for me to go places and be around people until I couldn’t. I never really thought I was stressing myself with activities until, due to the COVID-19 restrictio­ns, there were no more activities, and I had to stay home.

Then I decided to dig deep and learn what was infectious and what wasn’t. I vigorously washed my hands, rememberin­g what I had touched and which hand I had used to handle anything that might have germs on it. I scrupulous­ly disinfecte­d door handles and light switches, mopped the floor, sewed masks, and developed a strict routine for the times I had to leave the house. I did all this to protect myself and the loved ones in my home.

But then I also spent much more time watching television news. I dug online to learn about what was going on and what the future might look like. Apart from all my pains and efforts, I probably also spent too much time looking for things to entertain myself and keep my mind busy, because it was so hard to be still. It took a while to settle into the new routines of a quieter, simpler life, to learn to be selective about what I watched and listened to, and to limit my time thinking about the pandemic.

So I spent more time in my garden. I tended tiny sprouts and watched them bud before my eyes. In the new quieter world, there was less traffic and airplanes, and I could hear birdsongs and church bells. I learned the power of sanctuary, having a place where I could go, without people around me, without media, where I could protect myself from the contagion of fear and anxiety sweeping across the world.

As my world became smaller, my internal life became a bit grander.

As I shut out other thoughts, I could commune with God in my heart and find that place of peace in the midst of storm. I felt like I was going through the needle’s eye Jesus spoke about1 and entering into the kingdom of heaven, shedding some of the weights and worries that had bogged me down and seeing life a little more clearly.

So while I pray desperatel­y for those suffering, dying, and dealing with the loss of loved ones or income and security, and while I continue to pray for my own protection, I have been blessed to find a place to quarantine and protect my soul from the viral attacks of fear and anxiety. In the most difficult times of darkness, God’s light shines brighter to guide us and keep us through it all. 1. See Matthew 19:24.

Have you ever thought of taking up a new sport, learning to play a musical instrument or just stepping out of your comfort zone to do something new and different? Perhaps the desire was always there but there was always something that was stopping you from actually doing it? Well, let me tell you a short, true story.

Sometime ago I was faced with a very challengin­g situation. The pressure at my workplace was enormous and eventually affected my personal life. I felt that I needed something that would challenge me in a physical way to the point that I would simply be too tired to think about my work and would be able to relax.

I decided to enroll in a local sports club. I was 49 at the time, and some would consider me too old to be just starting a fitness regime. Sure enough, the trainings were grueling and I was so out of shape that I could barely do three pushups to begin with. I remember literally inching my way home after the first training.

I was worried I’d feel foolish training with much younger and more athletic people, but in fact, the people I got to know while working out were friendly, chilled, and extremely supportive. Their motto was “Never give up,” and it seemed to me that God had sent me there to strengthen both my body and my spirit.

I started with two training sessions a week, and after three months, I started going three times a week.

Six months later, I was going five times a week. My health improved by leaps and bounds.

As I’d hoped, the exercise was so intense that I couldn’t think about my problems while I was training. Not only did I feel stronger physically, but my spiritual wellbeing was improving, and I was in better shape to face my problems.

Of course, reading God’s Word is the best way to strengthen our spirit but He sometimes uses other things to help us too, in this case physical exercise. God is always on our side, because He loves us. He has our best interests at heart and wants to help us accomplish our goals. But He can’t do our part for us, whether that’s going to the gym, picking up that guitar you haven’t touched in years, starting that project you’ve been putting off, or whatever the situation is.

The point is, if I was able to do it, you can too. Just get up and start.

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