Katie Hickey, CGO Staff
Towards the beginning of April, a student asked me this question: “Do you think God has been teaching you anything during this time?” Now, I truly believe that God is using one major event as a unique lesson for every individual that has been affected by this pandemic. In a broader sense, but certainly no less important, I believe God is using this uncomfortable time to shake unbelievers from their comfortable sleep. With loved ones dying, the brevity of life is felt. With an uncertain economy, the power of money is quickly shattered. The media becomes more discreditable by the minute. Finding identity in one’s career becomes difficult with layoffs, furloughs, and working from home. Even Netflix will get old at some point. The noise of a busy life isn’t there anymore to drown the questioning soul. The things unbelievers look to for meaning, purpose, hope, happiness, relief—you name it—has been stripped away. The beautiful thing about the providence of God is that He allowed this virus to occur during a time when social media would be available as a channel for true meaning and hope. On the first quarantined Sunday, I remember thinking how cool it was to see so many believers posting their church services on social media. Scrolling suddenly became less of a mindless habit and more of a gospel-filled avenue. During uncertainty, people are hungry for something sure. Maybe you know of situations in which those who wouldn’t normally go to church are suddenly open to watching a service. I do. So, for unbelievers around the world, this pandemic resulted in a massive gospel-hearing opportunity.
But the original question wasn’t directed at others; it was asked of me. What is God teaching me? Interesting thing about this global pandemic: it stripped us all of our normal lives, equally. Believers didn’t come out ahead; they weren’t spared the suffering. Why? Because suffering has a purpose. We are to be made more like Christ. And, ultimately, we are to love and value Him above everything else. The unsaved weren’t the only ones left questioning their purpose and meaning in life—so were the believers, so was I. I think you can learn what you truly value by seeing what you miss the most.
On the last day of 2019, looking forward to 2020, I wrote a post on social media that included the following:
“I hope this world disappoints us if it means we realize God never fails.
I wish us poverty if it means we find the eternal riches of Ephesians through the sacrifice of God’s Son.
I hope we feel weak if it means we learn to lean on God’s strength.
I wish us loneliness if it means we meet the One who will never leave us nor forsake us.
I hope our hearts break if it means we draw close to the God who can heal them.
Of course, I wish God’s blessings upon us, but only as much as they point us to gratitude for and praise of the Creator who gave them.
I hope temporary 2020 encourages us to dwell on eternity and live accordingly.”
(By the way, be careful what you wish for.) I’d like to say that I welcomed the coronavirus crisis with that same attitude, humbly asking God that I would learn whatever He intended to teach me, but I didn’t.
Currently, I haven’t lost anything tangible, and I’m thankful to the Lord for that. But, as the honeymoon period of working from home wore off, I started realizing some things I really valued. See, I like my normal. I like my familiar. I like things my way. Stability and predictability are comfortable. They’re safe. Uncertainty and unknowns are not. Here’s the convicting thing: this comfortable and familiar and “figured-out” life is where my confidence rested. How is that any different from someone who doesn’t know the omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign, loving God? I should “know better.”
The bad thing about COVID-19 and quarantine is that it’s stripped us of what we love and value the most.
And, the good thing about COVID-19 and quarantine is that it’s stripped us of what we love and value the most.
John Piper puts it this way in Coronavirus and Christ, “The reason Jesus said that we all likewise would perish if we don’t repent is that we all have exchanged the treasure that God is for lesser things we love more (Rom. 1:22-23), and we all have treated Jesus as less desirable than money and entertainment and friends and family. The reason all of us deserve to perish is not a list of rules we have broken, but an infinite value we have scorned – the infinite value of all that God is for us in Jesus Christ” (p.81).
I know I’m not the only one who’s gotten a better look at personal sin during this time. Praise God! That’s grace. That’s hope of change. He has given us an opportunity to recognize it, repent from it, and run to Him for His forgiveness. What a merciful and loving God we serve! We owe Him nothing less than loving and valuing Him above all else. Beyond that, even during this time of being stripped of all that we thought were needs, He reveals to us that He and His Word are enough.
So let me get back to the student’s question from long ago at the beginning of this blog post: “Do you think God has been teaching you anything during this time?” I think God is teaching me to rethink my priorities and what I value in my life. I think He is prodding me to think about why I do what I do. Along with that, He’s teaching me that He is enough.
What’s He teaching you?
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.