This has been a crazy couple of months! Did I say, “has been”? Does that mean it’s over? Is it over? No, not by a long shot and yet there is talk – all kinds of talk – all around us – about opening back up again: opening up our economy again, opening up our lives again, opening up our church again!
As this crazy time continues for who knows how long and as we listen to all this talk about opening up again, I to want to encourage us to be patient in our faithfulness, to be persevering in our hope and to be practiced in our love (1 Cor. 13:13). Why? Because God is still the same as He has always been and therefore, we can be patient as we place our faith in our unchanging God (Heb. 13:8). Because God is still the God of hope and therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13). And because God is still the God of love and therefore, we can love as God has loved us (John 13:34; 1 John 4:7-21).
Opening up the economy, our lives and our church does not mean that life will return to normal. Yes, we want “normal” to return; yes, we want many of the things that we are now missing to be given back to us. But I’m not sure that we will return to “normal.” As much as I want now what I had then (and I really want that), I’m just not sure that will ever happen. Perhaps some of “normal” will return, but what if God wants to do something different?
Normal for a lot of people wasn’t working when it was normal. Ironically, people who were clamoring for change in their lives – i.e. a new normal – are those who are now clamoring for a return to what they had – i.e. the old normal. Enter the crisis. A new “normal” has been thrust upon them that has made them long for the “good ol’ days” when things seemed so (should I say it?) “normal!”
The problem is that it is stressful to change. It is hard to change. It takes a lot of work to change. And yet, we now have change thrust upon us. The longer this crisis continues the more stressful and the more difficult it will be to adjust to the changes necessary to live in this “new normal”. Enter God!
God, who not only sees all things, but oversees all things, is not surprised nor caught off guard by this. He knows exactly what is going on, He is still on his throne (Ps. 103:19; 135:5-7; Isa. 45:7-9; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:16-17; ) and “He will cause even this to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). In the midst of this crisis, God is calling out to every one of us, to come to Him. To come to Him in repentance, faith and trust and find rest (Matt. 11:28) and hope (Rom. 5:1-5) and peace (Phil. 4:6-7). In the midst of this crisis, God wants to do something new and unbelievable in your life.
God often uses disruption to drive us to something new. God’s interruptions are always divine opportunities. What sometimes looks like a curse, is actually a blessing. What sometimes seems to be the darkest day is actually the greatest opportunity. What sometimes looks like an ending to something is actually a beginning of something else. What if God has allowed this disruption to drive us to something new?
I wonder if our prayers shouldn’t that we go back, but that we go forward – forward into a different, but greater future, one that God is and has been preparing us for (Phil. 3: 13-14). Maybe our prayers ought to be “Show us, God, what you want us to do. Here I am, God, use me!”
We see this throughout the book of Acts when the Church was being established and the Gospel was spreading around the world. God would often use a disruption of life to cause an explosion of the Gospel! For example, Acts 8:1-4. The persecution of the Church in Jerusalem (right after the killing of Stephen) scattered the believers and as they scattered, they kept “preaching the Word” (v. 4).
We may be disrupted from our regular, normal life but that does not mean we are deterred from our purpose – to glorify God, to grow in our faith, to serve others and to share Christ! Sound familiar – Know, Grow and Go! We may be disrupted but we are not deterred.
While I do not know what life will look like as we open back up (whenever that is), what I do know is that God will use this disruption to do something new and unbelievable in you, to you and through you! God wants to use you where He has already taken you and as he takes you through this pandemic, He is preparing you for something unbelievable. Something different, something new. Trust Him!
My prayer for all of us, is that we would see this disruption as a divine opportunity that leads to something new and unbelievable happening – in our lives, in the lives of those around us and in the lives of those around the world.
As God is doing something new and different – even in this pandemic – we can be patient in our faithfulness, persevering in our hope and practiced in our love. Why? Because we love and serve a God of faith, hope and love! (1 Cor. 13:13)