If you're anything like me, you can sometimes feel the urge to resist a season where the formalities and consistency you once knew seem to be far gone. The feeling of disruption in the uniformity of a routine and the perceived ability to expect what most days will look like, is one I've seen both myself and most others resist. Any season of life where control seems to be lacking can easily lead to stress, anxiety, and overthinking. It's not often we take a step back to realize what control we think we have is actually more lacking in our day-to-day than what we think. Sure, we can typically control what we eat, wear, and do most days, but we truly are one wreck, doctor's visit, or phone call away from realizing the jurisdiction we want to exercise over our lives will always, at some point, reach a limit.
In the Biblical worldview, we adhere to the truth that God exists outside of time and space; that God is both fully in control and soveriegn over the ebbs and flows of peace and chaos this universe has experienced in the totality of its existence. This idea often draws varying points of contention for those that argue if evil exists everywhere, how could a perfect and Holy God also exist? Furthermore, it can also create a division among professing Christians who cannot fathom God being soveriegn over even the chaotical events swirling around us. I will admit, early on in my Christian walk I struggled with the idea of a loving God being who the Bible claims to be with such evil around me both near and far. Questions starting with why and how were often utilized as I pushed back on this idea. What's ironic is that it wasn't until I looked back on both the hardships in my life and walked through present difficulties that I understood further the beautiful character of God even in the midst of tumultuous storms around us.
It is an instinctive desire to know the origin of suffering when we or others experience it. Sometimes, (whether we recognize it or not) the reason for hardship is plainly displayed as a consquence for either our or others own wrong doing. Many other times, such heartache and pain seems to be lacking any answers for when we question either its purpose or cause. Questions about the problem of evil and suffering have historically been many of the hardest to tackle for both Christians and nonbelievers alike. This blog won't be centered around the idea of causation for the coronavirus and all that has found its way into the treacherous year of 2020, for that question is one I find less important in comparison to what I will propose to both discuss and urge us towards (there are also many wonderful books and resources discussing this idea already - which I will link below). I don't say that as a 'cop-out', but rather because through my own experiences and pain, I have found time and time again a few things that draws both joy and peace that suprpasses understanding to the forefront of my heart and mind. Furthermore, there is one prfound reminder that draws me back to Who my life is about.
Discovering more and more the character and nature of God as we approach Him in the Bible has comforted my weary heart often. The deeper I've drawn to His throne of grace in both my time of desperate need and the mundanes of life, the more I have been comforted in whatever difficulty life has thrown both mine and others way. Furthermore, as I've pressed into living out of the truth that God's unchanging character does in fact display that He works together all things for the good of those that love Him and according to His perfect purposes (Romans 8:28). As I reflect upon the humbling realisation that I am finite, forever changing, constrained to one place at one time, and mortal, it draws me to Him [God] who is none of those things; God who is sovereign holy, immutable, omipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, faithful, just, merciful, transcendent, self-existent, eternal, etc, chose me before the foundations of the earth to be transferred from the the deserved domain of darkness and into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son. For that, I cannot do anything but bow in reverance and worship.
It is upon this reflection to who I am in light of all that God is, that I find both awe and comfort. This place of humility, resting in His soverignty, is truly only found upon seeing that it is by His grace alone that I am even able to find comfort in my relationship with Him. For as Ephesians 2:8 says, salvation is not by my own doing but a gift from God. As much as we desire for all things to work together for the good of our purposes, that simply is not so - and that is a good thing. If each disruption, each season of life, was able to be willed together for our purpose in that given moment, I think it would be fair to guess in some time's reflection or separation, our desired purpose might have evolved or completely shifted altogether. I can look back on numerous times in my life where something I wanted to happen was actually one of the worst potential outcomes. Whether it be relationships, haircuts, jobs, or something even bigger our finite character is fully on display with each shifting heart's desire. So, what do we as Christians make of the disruption that has been COVID-19 and 2020? I will begin with saying what we are not to do.
We are not to look at the community of believers around us and criticize with malicious intent what we perceive is their approach to all the chaos that this year has been. I believe it is the tendency of many (me included) to cast judgement or critique with how one does or does not approach both difficult and joyful situations. Yes, we are called to teach and correct one another with the truth of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but we are not called to do so with a prideful or selfish heart. Upon a deeper reflection in those situations, I venture to guess the longings of our heart would display much less a desire for the uplifting of other believers than it does our own selves. I am not suggesting we are to never approach those in our community helping them to both understand and seek God on all things. Rather, I am urging us all to spend time seeking God in reflection upon our own hearts first - aiming not to know more of us but more of Him [God]; seeing that that is where growth in the trajectory of God's glory happens both in our personal relationship and relationship with others.
This idea of spiritual disruption happening as a result of all the pandemoneium and discord that has come with this year is not as a result of first looking to what we perceive is happening in the lives of the believers around us. I actually would like to suggest that it has much less to do with looking at either us or them and so much more to do with looking at Him [God]. I have a friend that often so briskly and concisely reminds me that our purposes on this earth are actually not in fact about us. Harsh at first to the defensive ear, but yet soothing to the heart and mind that rests more in whose they are over who they are. For we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and we, who are His, have all only become so by His grace and rich mercy (Ephesians 2:7). The chaos that has happened this year came as a surprise to us, but in many ways it shouldn't have.
When I say that, I am not speaking of the particulars of the year, but the clarity with which all that has happened has displayed the utter fallenness of the world that we live in. The disruption that this year has had upon our schedules, routines, and formalities I believe actually should not draw us to thinking about who is to blame but whose glory we are to be reflecting each day of our lives. God's glory is to be the purpose with which we do all things. Whether it is the coronavirus, policitial contention, war, or any other thing that is as a result of living in a sinful world is not at all the end to where we look for hope. Our hope is in Jesus, and therefore our lives are to be a reflection of Him.
Sinclair Ferguson expounds further on this. In his sermon, he says, "Sin not only alienates us from God but sin alienates us from seeing Him [God] in His glory. Loving that glory because it's His, reflecting that glory, and one day being brought to manifest that glory within ourselves when we see Him face-to-face."
This disruption we find ourselves is difficult. It has presented deeper levels of hardship and heartache than many of us have experienced in a while. We are not to disregard the pain and suffering of those around us just as much as we are not to disregard the reality of the sin nature of our world. Both of those things should not only remind us of the state with which we all are in apart from God's grace displayed through Jesus but also who we are to reflect both in times of joy and difficulty. This disruption has in many ways been an awakening to both myself and others as to where we are placing both our hope and treasures. It has served as a stripping away of all that falls short of the goodness and majesty of our perfect God. This truth isn't to be used to act as Job's insensitive friends but rather to point our communty and the world around us to whom is the ultimate source of life, breath, and hope.
God has done a mighty work on my heart this year, and I am wholly grateful for His never-ending grace shown in growing me even in my shortcomings. I, like many of you, have felt the weight of the state of which we are living. The burdens of this world are incredibly heavy, but language cannot be given to thankfulness for the light yoke that I bear because of Christ; Jesus who is gentle and lowly in heart. He who offers us Himself to learn from and find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29). I say all of this to say, the more we look to the disruptions of the world, the what's and how's and who's of the causation of the difficulties this year has presented, the contention as a result of the fallenness in which we live - the more we look to those disruptions the less we see the spiritual disruption that God is purposing for His glory and the good of those who love and follow Him.
This spiritual disruption may manifest differently in all of our lives. Therefore, I don't aim to provide the details for how that will be worked out. Instead, I want to encourage us all with the important reminder from Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31. In it, he says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In whatever we do, in wherever this year takes each of us, in all that our lives may encompass, let it be for the glory of God; for the glory of Him who chose to adopt believers before the foundations of this world and the sins in which we would commit against Him (Ephesians 1:4).
As Charles Spurgeon so profoundly teaches, "Glory in the Lord, brethren, practically, by having a contempt for those things which others value so much. Do not be greedy after the world. Love God too much to care for earthly treasures. If God gives you wealth, thank him for it and use it. If he does not, do not worry about it. Feel that you are rich enough without the heaps of yellow metal. You have your God, and that is the best wealth; you have a heaven to go to, and a little heaven below. Rejoice in that which you find in your God. Live above the world. May God’s Spirit help you. “Let your conversation be in heaven.” Thus glorify God, and when men look at you compel them to feel that there is something in you and about you which they cannot understand, for you have been with Jesus, and you have learned of him. In all these ways “he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord.”
Books on God & the Coronavrius