Not long ago I was surprised to receive a request from the British national statistics board, asking if I would help them with a social research project called ‘Time Use Study’. They want to find out how day-to-day living and things such as leisure time, childcare, time spent in retirement or ways of working have changed since the Coronavirus outbreak. My answers would be used to help the government to make decisions about education and health policies.
When I agreed to do this, and to keep a diary of every activity I did lasting ten minutes or more over the space of twenty-four hours on a particular Saturday and Tuesday, I did not realise how stressful it would be. Each activity had to be rated on a scale of 1 to 7 about how much I enjoyed it. (One of the activities I least enjoyed was answering all the questions online afterwards).
I don’t know what anyone will learn from reading about my activities, but I know that no day is ever going to be identical to another. On the Saturday, I was spending most of my time packing and preparing for a two week trip up to Scotland. The following Tuesday, I was staying in an Ellel Ministries Centre, with no household chores to do and spending a lot of the day socialising and attending meetings (to be described as ‘religious’, on the survey).
As for emotions, it is a strange experience to really analyse how much I enjoy what I am doing all day and all night. Emotions fluctuate enormously. It all depends on the situation we find ourselves in. The Bible says there are seasons of life that we go through.
‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace’ (Ecclesiastes ).8-3:1
Every day we have emotions that tell us how we feel about what is happening in the world around us. But we all get to choose how we respond. It is good to be reminded of what we are told in the Bible about our choices. There is always the choice to pray. There is always something we can give thanks for, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. It might be harder to rejoice, but those who are undergoing suffering testify about the Lord lifting their spirits and giving them things to rejoice in, despite their circumstances. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
I am grateful that I have so much freedom to choose my daily activities when I know that so many around the world being deprived of this privilege and undergoing great suffering.
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