I am finding myself use the word 'strange' a lot to try to describe the way I feel as I, along with everyone else, try to process the Coronavirus pandemic. As a country, our schools closed three days ago and we're all trying to get our heads around the prospect of home educating our children for the next three months.
How do I feel about everything at the moment?
But strange isn't a feeling, and in fact as a word the more I see it on the page the more the word looks, well strange.
It isn't an emotion, and yet it feels very much like the right word to use. It relays the general disquiet I feel in my soul. I've become quite attached to the word like it 'gets' me, it sums up the mood and manner of the hour. But what's behind it? I resonate with the word for sure, but it isn't good word to communicate actual experience and emotion. It's a word that essentially means 'I don't know' but it's a word that makes honest the fact that 'not knowing' isn't the whole truth; I know enough to know that everything is not ok.
No, what I believe I am feeling (and what others are as well), when I say I feel 'strange' is actually that I am feeling 'afraid'. Fear of the unknown, the myriad of potential worse-case disaster scenarios in my mind and fear of personal redundancy. I have no reason to feel these things, since nothin too obvious has changed in my immediate vicinity; friends and family members are largely healthy, shops are stocked, and yet there exists a foreboding and impending sense of inevitable chaos. It feels, well, strange.
But what I have also noticed is the behaviour my 'strangeness' is leading me toward; which is also pointing to another reality present in my soul. I am finding myself drawn to temptations old and new. I want to binge eat, I want to drink alcohol often, I want to (I feel drawn to) watch things on TV that I know what do be good - essentially pornography.
The events of the past week have unsettled me and have therefore created much greater need for comforting. My flesh seeks comfort in the only ways it knows how; by gratifying its desires. It convinces me that this wound of fear and discomfort can be treated with a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine, or the adrenaline of pornography. But these are not good sources of comfort. They hit a spot, but the spot then recovers, moves and grows (and needs another 'hit'). The fruit of the flesh, the result of gratifying the sinful nature, is not life but death. No, the flesh is good only for one thing - to be crucified.
Instead I must recognise that these feelings of fear and the need to be comforted can and must be taken to the Lord in prayer. I must do all the usual things I do to fight my flesh's demands - wrestle it, flee from it, involve friends in the struggle, and I must preach the gospel to myself and throw myself under the shadow of the Most High.
He and he alone is my comfort and the Comforter. In a world of uncertainty and crisis, he and he alone can lead my through it.
Do not gratify the desires of the flesh but rather listen to source of their noise, your need for and desire for comfort.