When coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. and quarantine commenced last March, I was disappointed and fearful, like many others I’m sure. Staying cooped up inside all day and not being able to socialize with my classmates was not an easy adjustment. But even as I adjusted to the “new normal”, I sensed something was still missing.
Earlier this year, prior to COVID, I felt as though I barely had time to really delve into the Word or spend time with Christ. Between homework, extracurricular activities, time with family and friends, us teenagers can have very busy schedules. As I realized that Christ should be my main priority, I began praying more, reading devotionals and Bible passages, and bonding more with my family.
The Lord used the quarantine period to help me slow down and use the extra time I had during my day to reconnect with him in a fresh new way. Spending time with Him daily prepares us to face the uncertain days ahead. Growing your faith in the Lord strengthens you when you feel weary, and keeping your eyes fixed on Him will bring you peace and comfort. If Christ is at the center of your life, there is nothing to fear.
If Christ is at the center of your life, there is nothing to fear.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” -Psalm 27:1
Perhaps your child is struggling in their faith throughout this season, or maybe you’re in a place where you have plateaued in your spiritual walk because of stress, challenges, and/or busyness. If that’s the case, I have good news for you — there are many ways to safely stay connected with God and others. Below are five spiritual practices that have helped me remain grounded in my faith, and I pray that they help you do the same as you walk out the rest of 2020.
"there are many ways to safely stay connected with God and others."
PrayerCommunicating with Christ is extremely important, the same way communication plays an essential role in the relationships we have with other people in our lives. He hears our prayers and longs to spend time with us. When we pray, our worries are placed onto Him and our burdens are removed. Matthew 11:28-30 says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
One way I like to encourage myself to pray is with a prayer journal. I write down what my requests are, and as they are answered, I check them off. I encourage you to find a way to stay faithful when praying, whether that be with a journal, an app like Echo, creating a prayer closet, or using a prayer box.
ScriptureReading scripture is foundational to our faith; we cannot expect to grow spiritually if we are not spending time in the Word. We must remember that the Bible is a gift and that the Word of God does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). The Bible is our opportunity to learn more about the Creator of the Universe who loves us so intimately. God will be faithful to speak to you and reveal Himself when you make time to dig into His Word. Reading Scripture will also refresh your soul. Isaiah 40:28-31 is a passage that has encouraged and uplifted me during this season because it reminds me of God’s power and trustworthiness.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
An app that always helps me find the right scripture is YouVersion. Typing in key words or emotions you currently feel can lead you to scriptures that will help you find peace. Another app for the little ones is the Bible App for Kids. I used this app when I was younger, and it allowed me to better understand Bible stories through the interactive pictures, animations, and games. I would also recommend checking out The Bible Project. This website contains videos that are narrated and animated to help you better understand the Bible as an epic narrative that points to Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. This is a perfect resource for individuals of all ages.
Lastly, if you stumble upon Scripture that you’re having a difficult time comprehending, you can use websites like Bible Gateway and Bible Hub to see the same passage in different versions. Oftentimes, different words will be used to convey the same message, which can help provide clarity. And if you’re someone who appreciates more context to Scripture, the ESV Study Bible has a plethora of supplemental resources like study notes, maps, and cross-references to help you study the Bible in a deeper way.
DevotionalsReading devotionals is an engaging way to spend time with the Lord and could serve as a great supplement to Scripture reading. They help relate Scripture to real-world situations, which makes for great application. If you’re wrestling with certain doubts, have questions about a particular topic, or would like to be encouraged in a specific area of your life, someone has likely authored a devotional just for those circumstances.
Devos have helped me pass through the hills and valleys of uncertainty as well as maintain a strong relationship with Christ. A few that have blessed me are the student devo series and ones from the YouVersion app, which will send you push notifications reminding you to read.
There’s no right or wrong time to read devos; do what works best for you. You can read Scripture and a devotional when you first wake up, during your lunch break, right before bed, or during another available window of time during your day. Devotionals are also something you can do together as a family; they have brought my family and I closer together, creating a strong spiritual bond. If you’re a parent, you could even have your child read a devo in the car on the way to school while you drive!
There’s no right or wrong time to read devos; do what works best for you.
Online Services & PodcastsAlthough churches are in the process of reopening, some people may still choose to stay home and watch church online until they feel ready to return, which is totally understandable. Watching church services online and listening to podcasts are accessible ways to grow in your faith safely at home. And what’s especially great about church online is that you just don’t have to watch one church service and call it a day; you have access to church services from all around the world! While listening to a pastor or speaker, taking notes on key points and scriptures will allow you to look back on them later at a later time. It’s always a good practice to refer to them halfway through your week as a refresher.
One podcast in particular that motivates and encourages me in my faith is Hope for the Heart by June Hunt. She discusses modern day problems and interviews people to tell their stories. She shares exactly what the title says: hope for the heart! I also recommend looking into Faith Play, which is an app that allows you to easily discover the best Christian podcasts that will help encourage you and feed your soul.
FellowshipBeing in fellowship and community with other believers whom you can “do life together” with plays such an important role in one’s spiritual walk. Getting together with a group of friends or family online and doing a devotional together can help you grow in your relationship with Christ and keep you connected to each other. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Even in this era of social distancing, technology has made it possible for us to still connect with each other safely, which is truly a blessing.
If you’re looking for a virtual community during this season, I recommend looking into Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's online group and even praying about leading one of your own! As a Calvary Christian Academy student, I have the opportunity to be a part of a small group with eight other 12th grade girls both in person and online this school year. We need this community and each other now more than ever! Knowing that you’re not alone and sharing your life with other Christians — the good, the bad, and the ugly — will encourage you to keep fighting, growing, and learning.
Knowing that you’re not alone and sharing your life with other Christians — the good, the bad, and the ugly — will encourage you to keep fighting, growing, and learning.
Even though we live in a troubled world filled with sickness and uncertainty, we can rely on the strongest anchor and unshakable foundation — Jesus Christ. Not only will we get to know our Savior’s heart in a deeper way when we spend time practicing His presence, but we will also experience a supernatural peace that this world cannot offer. Through prayer, scripture and devotional reading, watching services online, listening to podcasts and teachings, and building community from a safe distance, we can stay connected to Christ and others.
You don’t have to run the race you’re running alone; run alongside people who will challenge you not to just keep a steady pace, but to quicken your spiritual stride. The finish line — Christ’s return and redemption — is drawing near!
Carolina Torres-Tello is a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. She has attended the school since first grade. Her father is the yearbook adviser for CCA, her brother is a freshman at the school, and her mother is a stay-at-home mom. Carolina has a love for reading, drawing, and writing.