Devotional for Monday June 8th

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Think for yourself”
Our Bible verse for today: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Don’t fear the criticism”
One example of people not thinking for themselves is when they form their opinions and make their decisions based upon what is popular rather than on what is right. The appropriate response to the recent (and ongoing) COVID 19 pandemic is a case-in-point. On the frontend of this thing nobody knew for sure what we were dealing with or how dangerous and deadly it would be. Initial indicators were ominous – it seemed like the illness and death that could result from it would potentially be catastrophic. (Even with the extraordinary measures that were taken to control it we have still had 110,000 of our friends and loved ones die from this disease in just over five months – and it isn’t over yet. Without the shut-downs and social distancing measures that number would have been much higher).
But still, there were heated debates and even angry arguments about how much was enough, and how much was too much, in terms of social and economic interventions to control the spread of the disease. A common refrain from the naysayers was some version of “Don’t give-in to fear”. The implication was that the entire thing was overblown and those who instituted or complied with the suggested health protocols, social distancing, and other measures, were doing so out of fear.
Personally, I think those people are confused about the difference between fear and courage. Being dismissive of a risky or potentially dangerous situation is not courageous. That’s reckless and it’s also inconsiderate of others. Courage is when you acknowledge the situation for what it is, engage it, and then do the hard work to get yourself and others safely through it – even if doing so isn’t popular.
I thank God for all the elected leaders, healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and influencers at all levels of society who had the courage to engage the situation, ignore the sometimes withering criticism, and simply do the things that needed to be done in order to get everyone through this. I’m also grateful for all the people who were willing to err on the side of safety, endure the inconveniences and the economic hardships, and cooperate with the best efforts of our elected officials and healthcare professionals to deal with a confusing and fluid national crisis.  
Often however, people are too quickly influenced and moved by criticism. Even in those cases when we truly believe our actions are correct, the prospect of being criticized by those who disagree with us can lead us to change course even though deep down we know we shouldn’t. In such cases we’re allowing our actions to be determined by others, rather than boldly doing what we know to be right.
I encourage you to not do that. Have the courage and the boldness to do what you believe to be right, and don’t be deterred by the critics on the sidelines. Tomorrow we’ll consider a word of encouragement about this from one of our country’s greatest Presidents.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2020 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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