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If I had a Rand for the number of times I've heard: "The past few years have been strange", I would be incredibly wealthy. But it is true and, unfortunately, the effects of Covid-19 (and everything that has come with it since 2019) have caused a major shift in the way of life.

This is with valid reason: Covid has shaken humanity and institutions to the core. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at least 4 million cases of Covid were recorded in Africa, and 100 000 lives were lost to the pandemic at the height of the outbreak in 2021. The epidemic negatively affected African governance strategies toward a safer, healthier, and more prosperous Africa by 2030 and 2050. The impact of this was an increase in human insecurity, crime and poverty.

While we face a very clear governance challenge in Africa post-Covid, there is something that can not be as neatly captured. That is, the immense and general state of exhaustion experienced in our society today; the increasing levels of stress to perform at work or increasing levels of stress as a result of unemployment; and the fact that institutions seem to be making up for lost time by increasing the demand on people that might not have existed before the pandemic.

The recurrent question I have been asking myself for the past four years is, "Where was I and where am I when the storms hit?" Jesus tells us, in John 16:33, that the world will experience tribulation and sorrow. He also instructs us to find rest and peace in Him because He already overcame the world. But in my high-stress moments, what was I doing? Truth be told, I was distracted, instead of sitting at His feet and being renewed by Him.

When fear or uncertainty plagues us, God has given us everything we need to weather the storms of life, in the person of Jesus. But we need to increase our faith and shift our focus from all of the worries of the world onto the One who has overcome it.

Luke, in Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) recalls an account of two sisters, Mary and Martha, who welcome Jesus into their home. While they both love the Lord, the two have very different approaches to being in Jesus’ presence:

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

I so desperately wanted to be represented by Mary in this account, but, all too often, Martha's attitude towards Jesus was one that I adopted. In the moments when Jesus calls us to be still and surrender to His kingship, we have the choice to slow down and be discipled by Him, or the alternative: allow hurry and every distraction to take us away from the relationship that Jesus desires to have with us.

There is a life source in sitting at Jesus' feet that we should desire. Like Mary, when we sit under the Lord's teaching, the good fruit we bear cannot be taken away from us, even when every distraction, fear, and insecurity try to sway us.

At first, the sacrifice to set aside the things and distractions we deem more crucial than a continual renewal of our minds in the Word and God's presence (like work, family and friends, school, spouses, children) might seem costly. But, in fact, the Marys of the world are much better off, because when we seek God and His Kingdom first, He provides in all ways, including the fleeting needs of man.

With high levels of stress and anxiety so prevalent in our society, this begs the question: who or what is our focus if, when the storms of life hit, we feel stressed? This question is a call that our faith in Jesus needs to eliminate everything that stands in opposition to God's word and His promise to us. It is our responsibility to, through faith, withstand the wiles of the evil one. And finally, it is a call to slow down and experience the rest and renewal found in the presence of God.

The account of Mary and Martha is not only an encouragement that, in the midst of a world that demands our attention, God calls us to a place of refreshing in His presence, but also a warning that, as Christians, a time will come when our unpreparedness and lack of infilling of God's presence will result in us being unprepared for Jesus' return.

The parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV) captures this well :

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. 'Lord, Lord,' they said, 'open the door for us!' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know you.' Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour.”

As Christians, we have the responsibility to continue to work at our salvation and to be renewed by God's revelation for us daily. Hurry and distraction might be fashionable in the world's terms, but God has promised us much more than what the world could ever offer us. The next storm that comes may not be at the level of a global pandemic, but my encouragement to you is: will you be at the feet of Jesus when those storms do hit?

Your Sister


Women of Reverence welcomes Miche Kahl as our guest contributor.

Miche is a a 27 year old daughter of God situated in the West Rand of Gauteng. She is a wife to Ivan and involved in various aspects of ministry at her local church, Cornerstone Church West. She is a product research analyst for a Christian organisation whose mission is to equip the church with material to bring people to a relationship with Jesus.

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