An important question during these Covid-impacted times is: “How are you coping?” People of faith might also ask: “How is your soul?” “Is it well with your soul?” Our first response might be to look outwards at the troubles which surround us. Then, like the Psalmist, we might look inwards. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” Though troubled, the Psalmist recognises that there is something else going on. He looks upwards. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (Psalm 42:11). His inner and outer struggles occur within the context of an extraordinary relationship that is life-giving for the soul.

The question, “Is it well with your soul in these troubled times?” invites an outward, inward, and upward gaze. Outwardly, there is the reality of our individual and societal circumstances. Inwardly, we can prayerful attending to the “cast down” and “disquiet” within us. Then upwardly, along with the Psalmist, we recall that we live in the ambience of God’s presence, love, and mercy.

Asking about the soul’s wellbeing can redirect our gaze to the core of who we are as a person. But we can be strangers to the soul’s mysteries. It is easy to lose perspective on the soul as the most highly valued characteristic of who and how we are. We need reminders that our soul has been imprinted with the image of our Creator and that our most foundational desire is for an intimate relationship with God. Insufficient on its own, our soul is placed in Christ’s care to be animated by the breath of the Holy Spirit. Under this divine tutelage, our soul can be reshaped from above by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ. This ultimate miracle of transforming grace affords us eternal worth as children of God. It enables us to actively participate in the life and kingdom purposes of Jesus.

The transforming touch of the Spirit upon our souls, and the invitation to participate in the life and kingdom purposes of Jesus, can dramatically shift our outward, inward, and upward gaze.  Looking outward through Jesus’ eyes would see him actively engaging through his Spirit-led children in our troubled world. We can invite the Spirit to guide our inward gaze and discern Jesus’ invitation to bring our “cast down” and “disquiet” into deeper intimacy with him. In this relationship, we can learn from his humble and gentle heart how to live freely, lightly, and purposefully amid the challenges of our Covid-impacted world (Matt 11:28-30). Our upward gaze becomes an occasion of praise as, along with the Psalmist, we find our hope, security, and constant help in God.

“Is it well with our souls amid this pandemic?” “Yes!” Looking outwards to what is real, inwards to the Spirit’s discerning and transforming touch, and upwards to our being enfolded in God’s loving presence, we can experience wellbeing and rest for our soul.

Chris Brown