L-I-S-T-E-N: Six Ways to Avoid Pandemic Distraction

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“I can’t listen,” complained our youngest granddaughter when the adult conversation in the car prevented her from hearing her favorite song. We smiled at her use of “listen” and turned the CD player volume up. Problem solved.

Most listening challenges are more complicated.

This morning as I read a devotion, the stone deck fountain played soothing, peaceful notes as the water trickled down its sides. The sound provided perfect “background music” for my study and reminded me of God’s peace that flows in the hearts of believers who trust Him.

In prayer, I released some anxious thoughts that threatened to engulf me. With a desire to hear from God, I picked up my study Bible and began to meditate on a familiar verse.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

A sudden buzzing sound pierced the quietness of my reverie. I discovered the source of the noise about twelve inches to my right. A giant carpenter bee hovered over the deck railing, playing dissonant notes with its wings. The awkward insect then lumbered along the underside of the wood looking for a spot to nibble out a hole.

The volume of the buzz not only distracted me from sensing God’s peace, but it also harassed me with thoughts of whether carpenter bees sting.

If not, I’ll stay. If so, I’ll move. I can’t remember. Should I shower the bee with insect spray or allow it to go on its merry way? Oh, well. He’s now busy with chomping.

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Although my bee watching lasted only a few minutes before I returned to my devotional reading, I realized later I’d forgotten about the sound of the fountain, its representation of God’s peace, and the verse I’d planned to study. The distraction caused me to lose focus.

In the same way, pandemic life can fill our thoughts with a cacophony of disturbing news reports that are conflicting and constantly changing. What works today may be labeled ineffective tomorrow. Case numbers decline, and then they increase. Politicians pontificate, and doctors direct.

The barrage of information can incite apprehension and fill us with uncertainty. A friend recently told me she burst into tears when the television news pushed her over the brink.

When the buzz of newsfeeds and anxious thoughts divert my attention from hearing God’s peace and direction, I feel like echoing my granddaughter’s statement: “I can’t listen.”

The same is true when my appointments with God are interrupted by a text reporting a friend’s positive COVID-19 result or my own thoughts about increased local cases, or even a carpenter bee going about his God-designed tasks.

Has the volume of virus clamor hindered your ability to listen to God? How can we focus on His truths amidst pandemic distractions?

Consider the LISTEN acrostic below and meditate on the verses. Then, please share your thoughts on avoiding pandemic distractions.

L-I-S-T-E-N: Six Ways to Avoid Pandemic Distraction

L: List concerns in a prayer journal and share them with God in prayer.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

I: Ignore distractions.  

 Cease striving and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

S: Study the Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

T: Thank God for His presence and provision.

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 136:26

E: Exercise self-control by tuning out negative attitudes and social media comments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

N: Note important truths God teaches you and commit to obey His instruction.

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

Luke 11:28

Bible verses are from the NASB.

36 thoughts on “L-I-S-T-E-N: Six Ways to Avoid Pandemic Distraction

  1. I love the acrostic. Wonderful words to live, and pray, by! God bless!

  2. I wrote each of these verses because they spoke to me in my time of need. I’ve been praying for God to reveal to me His purpose, what He wants me to do to get through this time of grief. LISTEN. I need to listen. Thank you for blessing me today, Jeannie.

  3. Lovely post! An encouragement for us all!

  4. Jeannie-this is excellent. Packed with Biblical principles and practical application. Thank you for turning our attention to life-giving and not life draining places.

  5. Wonderful acrostic; and such a timely message, Ms. Jeannie. I’ll be saving this one to refer back to when the world starts to distract my meditation times. Thank you ma’am.

  6. Such an encouraging word in these uncertain times. Love the acrostic!

  7. Evelyn Mason Wells

    Wonderful devotion! I love the acrostic and the Scripture references. You wrote about a solution to the stressful deluge of negative information. Good word, Jeannie. Thank you for reminding us to Listen to what God has to say to us in His Word.

  8. Wonderfully written! A blessing to all who find it hard to “listen” these days. Thanks, Jeannie, for this timely message.

  9. This is wonderful! Distractions come at the oddest times. I am thankful for God calling me back to Him when I become distracted.

  10. Melissa, you’re right that many distractions “come at the oddest times”—when we’re least prepared—just like the carpenter bee. I want to listen to God more intentionally each morning to prepare for the day. Thanks for sharing.

  11. A great acrostic to remind us to Listen! I needed this! thank you.

  12. A wonderful post, for these pandemic times and thereafter, Jeannie. Thank you. Love the acrostic and the scriptures you includes with it.

    How do I avoid pandemic distractions?

    1. Make sure my positive intake outweighs the negative. The Bible and time spent in God’s presence a priority.

    2. I take comfort in the fact that Jesus still has the whole world in His hands and all we see is unfolding Bible prophecy, more proof of the truth of God’s Word and promises.

    3. Intentionally focus on what I can do rather than on what I cannot currently.

    4. Find someone to encourage.

    5. Spend time outside in God’s creation.

  13. Jimmie Annette Ballard

    Thank you Jeannie once again I am blessed. Distraction is a constant problem.

  14. Thanks for the reminder that we can listen to God instead of the noise of the world around us.

  15. Rachael, thank you for adding these excellent strategies!

  16. What a fabulous, timely post! I’m tucking this away for personal use and sharing with friends, as well. Thank you for blessing me today.

    Peace and grace,
    Tammy

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Tammy, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and want to share it with friends. Thank you for telling me. We can all benefit by applying these verses to our pandemic distractions, can’t we?

  17. Jeannie, I loved your acronym LISTEN. And whenever I go my my porch to read it seems a wasp or some other stinging insect starts buzzing around me too!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Debbie, I’m thankful you enjoyed the post. I love Bible study time on my deck, but so do the flying pests. 😉

  18. Oh, Jeannie, there are SO MANY distractions – whether pandemic or not. Your acrostic helps with these pesky things. Though I also think that some distractions can be opportunities – so we also need to L-I-S-T-E-N to those as well and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to know when our Father is trying to get our attention.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jeanne, what a wise observation you make in your comment. Yes, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit in order to hear His direction at any point during our day. We certainly don’t want to miss opportunities He brings.

  19. Thank you Jeanne for this appropriate post. I sometimes feel like there is so many distractions it makes my head spin! Philippians 4:6-7 was one of the first verses that I memorized and helps me when I start to feel anxious. Thank you for the acrostic, I will need to write that one down.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Doreen, I know the feeling of head-spinning distractions. I’m glad you found the acrostic helpful. Thanks so much for telling me.

  20. Thank you, Jeannie for these encouraging words! May we guard our hearts from the distractions swirling around us. By placing God’s word in our hearts and minds we can hear His voice above the noise of the world. God bless you, friend.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      What a wise observation, Dawn–to keep God’s Word in our heart so that His voice overcomes the world’s noise. Thank you for adding that encouragement.

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