I think this Coronavirus time contains a great blessing.
Oh, I know it is full of hardships for so many, and its cost is deep. Relationally, emotionally, physically, and economically deep. People are suffering and dying. I know. I performed a funeral yesterday with only ten people allowed to attend, and very little hugging in the grief. It made me sad.
But God remains at work, especially in our “wrestling times.”
These times are resetting the world norms. Giving us new perspective. Allowing us to search our hearts. We are often “enlarged” and cultivated to growth when we go though real struggles. We see where our world is broken, and what is really of value.
I’m not saying that God hurts us (or allows hurt) just to watch our pain or to break us down. On the contrary, God doesn’t hurt us—it is the world we live in that draws our blood. As a boy, my dad would call this pain “consequences of our poor behaviors.” Because of evil (in the spiritual realms, in us, and in the world), things are scrambled here on earth. People hurt one another. The roots of human selfishness have ultimately created division, sickness, poverty, greed, anger, and even death.
God doesn’t create these things to wound us. He is the one Person who wants to rescue broken people from these evil forces. Perhaps God is allowing us to see the real need of our human condition? To look for more in the middle of difficulties? To value what we take for granted. In Suffering, Tim Keller writes,
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine… While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”
The Message version of Romans 8:24-28 says that every detail (“all things”) of this struggling process is growing the faithful:
We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
In the Old Testament, Joseph said to his brothers (who’d sold him into slavery and prison), “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Genesis 50:20). “God meant it for good” indicates God didn’t merely fix a bad situation. Instead, fully aware of what Joseph’s brothers would do, God allowed the bad so that evil would be used for good. He did so in accordance with his plan from eternity past. God’s children have “been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). So what do we do?
“Therefore we do not give up. . . . For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Someone sent me a beautiful post from author Laura Kelly Fanucci. I have adapted it slightly to make it a prayer. Would you pray this with me?
When this is over may we
Never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine check-up
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each new breath
A boring Tuesday
When this ends may we find
that we have become
more like the people
We wanted to be
We were called to be
We hoped to be
And may we stay that way
better for each other
because of the worst.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.