1. In what ways are you struggling with frustration and anger because of the impact of the coronavirus?
If you are a coach or athlete whose season was suddenly brought to an abrupt end or canceled even before it started as a result of coronavirus concerns, you’re likely feeling frustrated. Maybe you’re feeling angry that something you love so much was taken from you. On top of this, you’re probably feeling some guilt about your frustration and anger because you know that there are other significant issues at stake as a result of this pandemic: people’s health, lives, jobs, and futures.
Digging deeper, what’s behind our feelings of frustration and anger? In his book The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ, James Bryan Smith asserts that two things are usually at the root of our anger: unmet expectations and fear. For example, when the games we assumed we would be playing or coaching in are suddenly taken from us, our expectations for what competition in sports does for us are unmet. Maybe we look to sports to provide us a sense of fulfillment. Perhaps we rely on sports for a big part of our identity. We then fear that we’ll experience the ongoing emptiness that comes with the loss of our source of fulfillment or identity. This can make us afraid that things will not go well for us in other areas of life.
Read Psalm 4 and Philippians 4:4-9
The antidote to frustration and anger is peace: peace in Jesus. The “peace” the Bible talks about is captured in the Hebrew word shalom. It means more than the absence of conflict. Shalom carries the idea of experiencing well-being, flourishing, and harmony in all areas of our life as we’re living according to God’s good intent under his reign as our King.
We see this in Psalm 4 as the psalmist contrasts “letting anger gain control over you” (v. 4) with v. 8: “In peace (shalom) I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” Just a verse before, we get a picture of the flourishing that shalom from God brings: “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” All of this is not the result of the psalmist’s circumstances suddenly changing. Instead, he experiences shalom because he has intentionally chosen to “trust in the Lord” (v. 5), knowing “the Lord will answer when I call to him” (v. 3).
2. How does this understanding of shalom change how you think about the peace God offers you through faith in Jesus? What difference would experiencing this peace make in your life, especially during this difficult season?
Philippians 4 points to this same pathway to experiencing God’s peace, including in the face of temptations to let frustration, anger, and fear control us because of all the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
When we place our faith in Jesus and surrender our life to him, we are “in Christ Jesus” – united to Christ. He is now the source of true and lasting shalom for us, no matter what we encounter. To access this peace, we bring everything to the Lord in prayer, trusting him. We continually remind ourselves of all the things for which we can be thankful, knowing that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). Even when in the midst of circumstances like what’s happening with the coronavirus, we can experience God’s peace through trusting Christ – a peace “which exceeds anything we can understand.”
Bring your frustrations, anger, and causes of worry to God in prayer – including missed games, canceled seasons, and unmet sports expectations. Express gratitude to him for all you do have even as you’re encountering the fallout from the coronavirus. Daily commit yourself to trusting and living for Jesus. Let God’s peace guard your heart and your mind.
3. For what can you be thankful to God during this season? Express your gratitude to him.
4. Ask the Lord Jesus to guard your heart and your mind with his peace. Ask him to help you trust him and flourish in his good design for your life during this tumultuous time.
Philippians 4:6-7 –
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.