Maybe there's more to having a relationship with the Lord than feel-good mantras, uplifting worship songs and out-of-context Bible verses. But if these aren't enough to get you through the challenges brought up by COVID-19, what is?
I want to establish that, first and foremost, I am talking to myself. This post serves as conviction from the Lord for myself and for others. It also serves as a reminder, however, of what is truly important during this time in which the whole world seems to be collapsing with fear and uncertainty.
We've been in quarantine for about a week now, and I'm doing everything I can to keep myself from boredom, complacency and laziness. I'm not too worried about the virus itself -- I've long expected some kind of crazy pandemic-type thing to hit the US, and I actually trust the Lord about it a lot. It's not hard for me to trust Him with this (Side note: it is very hard for me to trust Him in other areas, and I had to repent for the pridefulness that arose from trusting Him so much over Coronavirus. The reality is that I have a very hard time trusting Him over the things that are of more importance to me).
It is very difficult for people to trust Him through this, and rightly so. This is a lot to be confronted with all at once. Students across the United States have transitioned to online courses for the remainder of the semester. College kids have packed up their dorm rooms and headed home and returned early from study abroad programs and trips. Many businesses across the country have transitioned to allow employees to work from home. Others have yet to make changes, keeping employees at work out of necessity. Many businesses have been forced to close. People are losing jobs. People are falling behind on bills and payments. People are struggling to cope with the uncertainty and changes. People are getting sick. People are losing loved ones. People are experiencing the very real implications of this pandemic.
Western Christianity is finally experiencing a TINY glimpse of what Christians around the world have been facing ever since Jesus walked the earth: discomfort, uncertainty, challenges and the impact of corruption induced by mankind's sin. For many, faith is being shaken. Foundations built upon the sand are crumbling under this storm (One of my close friends Chantel wrote an excellent blog post about what it looks like to be a disciple during this time -- it's definitely worth the read. You can find it here).
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
As I've talked with fellow believers, we've discussed the comfort of knowing that God is here in this time. God is turning this evil into something for His glory, and He's doing it at on international scale. Foundations built on anything other than the rock of God are being shaken, torn down and felled so that lives can be rebuilt upon the cornerstone of Jesus. We are experiencing something we've never experienced before, and we have the opportunity to encounter God in a way we've never experienced before.
But what does a foundation built upon the sand look like? Ah, the enemy is crafty. He has given many people a false sense of control over their lives through financial stability, job security, home ownership, education and degrees, and through the lie that Christians are supposed to "have it easy." There are a couple harsh realities to be addressed here:
(1) Once we give our lives to Christ, they are no longer our own.
Then He said to them, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake will be saved." Luke 9:23-24
We are not meant to have control over our lives. The whole point of surrendering our lives to the Lord is trusting that He knows better than we do, that He is a better God over our lives than we are. This is something we constantly have to do, though. I know for me, the temptation is to lay down my life and then pick it right back up again. We constantly have to lay down our lives.
Pause and ask the Lord what it would practically look like for you to surrender your life to Him.
(2) Christianity was never about living a life of comfortability.
This is evident throughout all of Matthew 10, when Jesus sends out the 12 apostles. Wrapped up in this passage is a message that is both an encouragement and a warning. The whole thing is incredibly convicting. If this is what following Jesus is supposed to look like, what is it that I am doing?
God calls different people to different things, and I'm not saying that it's bad to have financial stability, job security, home ownership or education. What I am saying is that it's bad to build your life with those things as your foundation. Why? Because one day the storm will come, and your foundation will be put to the test.
Well, my friends, that day is here, courtesy of COVID-19. We are in the midst of one of the most uncertain times in our lives, and our foundations are being put to the test.
So where do you find yourself presently?
Are you worried about what is going to happen to you and your family in the midst of this? Here are some encouraging verses:
Matthew 6:34: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Do not worry" is a command, not a suggestion.
Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
Jesus prayed this prayer in the garden before He was taken to be crucified. This needs to be the center of our prayers: Not my will but Yours be done.
Are you not experiencing the worry of the world and instead finding it easy to trust God through all of this? You should tell people, then, in encouragement. Give them an opportunity to have the hope that you were given. Show them the good news that is Jesus.
Mark 16:15: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."
A relationship with the Lord more than enough to get you through the challenges presented by COVID-19. It's time for you to assess where you are in your relationship with the Lord. Take this opportunity to grow in trusting the Lord if that's something you're struggling with. The implications are real: it means laying down your life in surrender to the Lord and letting go of control, not just saying "Trust the Lord!" It means changing your language from "I'm so worried about x, y and z" to "Even though it doesn't make sense, still You are God over my senses. God, Your presence is more real. I'll walk by faith and not by sight and put my trust in You" (from Even Though by We Will Worship). It's time for the lukewarm to make a decision. It's time to either trust the Lord or don't, to lay down your life or keep it. But don't be disappointed when you try to employ inspirational quotes and comforting Bible verses to rescue you without ever turning to the Father.
It's time to radically trust the Lord in the way that He was always meant to be trusted.
May the dust of the Rabbi cover you,
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."