The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked us all. Schools are closed. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Hospitals and nursing homes are strained. Analog churches are trying to find meaningful engagement in a digital world. People are afraid. I have wanted to guard myself by either blaming others, pushing even harder into busyness, or pretending as though this pandemic has no bearing on my family or our future. During the course of the last two weeks, four core truths of the gospel for me have been tested.

  1. God’s heart revealed in Jesus is good toward me.
  2. God is able, beyond my wildest dreams.
  3. God is wise–graciously, sovereignly, and mysteriously at work.
  4. Therefore, I am not left to my own or on my own. I belong to God.

 

“What do I believe?”

it could be the Holy Spirit’s opportunity to bring us into closer communion with Jesus and shape us more into his likeness from the inside out.

Suffering in general and pandemic in particular, have a way of revealing what I deeply believe – resurfacing old lies that have distorted who I am in relationship to Jesus, unleashing old fears that once governed my life, and making attractive again old ways of trying to make my life work apart from God. When the pressure is on my most deeply held affections, stories, and loyalties bubble to the top and compete with my biblical belief system.

And when the pressure is on and the stakes are high, it could be the Holy Spirit’s opportunity to bring us into closer communion with Jesus and shape us more into his likeness from the inside out.

“Questions and Answers”

 This became evidently clear last Sunday when my six-year-old son woke up with a low-grade fever that continued to escalate throughout the day. With my son’s fever rising, I felt within myself the rising pressure of somehow making it all better. I was angry at myself for not having enough control and fearful of the unknowable future. I found myself questioning God. God, are you good? God, are you powerful enough for any good? God, are you competent enough to notice, to care, and do something about it? Don’t You see what I am trying to do here…who I am trying to be?!

If you were driving down the main street of my town around 11 am that Sunday, you would have seen me running (which is not a pretty sight the older I get) from my home to the grocery store and then back home with a jug of orange juice in hand. Fueled by fear, I asked my son to drink a cup of orange juice while I was attempting to catch my breath. He would not do it. It was at that point I heard the Lord whisper: “This isn’t up to you only. Nothing ever is. You don’t have to be the hero. Trust me.” Recognizing that my strategies weren’t working, and the Lord was pursuing me, I found courage to spend time reflecting and praying through Psalm 62. This passage of Scripture has been a source of comfort and truth for me for the last 15 years:

“Yes, my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (NIV)

As I sat with the truth of Scripture, I felt a confidence and trust in God being renewed and restored as I opened and poured out my heart—my fears, my pride, my willfulness, my dreams, my kids, my wife, and our future—to God who is “my refuge” and I remembered again that God is unshakable, dependable, good, and wise; and I belong to Him. I recognized how Evil was hunting me–tempting me to choose deceitful and deceptive desires. From this place of humility and comfort, I was able to release the deceptive desire to make everything work on my own terms and strength.

 

“Who am I?”

 God’s Larger Story continues, and I’ve been swept up in it. The near future is completely unknown and unpredictable. Yet, I am believing again or in a new way that God is orchestrating a miracle of some kind on the other side of this. My heart is more at rest in God now than it was during the first days of the pandemic.

I can’t take care of everyone. I can’t be a hero. But I can remain engaged and present as a resilient shepherd who engages others with love and strength offering life and growth. This is who I am–one who is called to reflect and reveal Christ. This is my part to play. The only way is the way of Holy Week. The way of following Jesus through the mystery, the pain, the testing, the surrender, the cross, and the silence that leads to resurrection, life, and joy that comes in the new morning.

The next day my son came downstairs with the announcement: “I feel better. Let’s play a game.” I do not know the source of my son’s sickness. However, I do know that my soul can find rest in God.

Please remember, my friends, that the events of Holy Week that changed everything did not happen in a church building or an official sacred space. Invite Jesus to walk you into this week wherever you are and wherever He wants to take you.

 


One Step Further:

  1. What is stirring in your heart–thoughts, sadness, anger, rest, lies, pain, longings, loyalties–this week? Offer these to God.
  2. What is the Holy Spirit wanting to teach you about yourself?
  3. Who does God want to be for you?

New Resource!

I Believe. But Do I Really?

The disconnect between what we think we believe and how we respond when the pressure is on.

LEARN MORE

Why is it so hard to believe?

We KNOW at a rational level that we need to trust. That God loves us. That he hasn’t forsaken us in the past and he won’t in the future.

But still…We find ourselves struggling with fear. Defaulting to the need to control. Losing, if not our religion, at least our sense of peace.

When life’s pressures hit we react not out of our rational beliefs but those at a more basic, visceral level. Those that are heavily influenced by our experience of life.

In I Believe. But do I really? We look at the elements that make up a belief system and how you can move from believing the truth of God’s word rationally to having a belief that is integrated at all four levels of the heart. Learn More