The last two months, I’ve been asking God, “what do you want me to learn through this time? How do I need to reset my life? What areas need to grow/change/develop?”
Hillary Clinton recently said that COVID-19 would be a terrible crisis to waste, asserting an agenda to gain further control and push Americans further into socialism. The original quote by Rahm Emanuel spoke of leadership usurping authority where they didn’t have it otherwise. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
This post won’t point out how our government has overreached and tried to rob citizens of Constitutional freedoms, but rather, I would like to take the idea of not wasting a crisis in a different light–for the betterment of our personal growth.
We should view our trials and hardships as opportunities, not obstacles. How can I grow through this pain? What lie does my fear or anxiety reveal about my true belief system? Am I who I want to be? How can this pain make me better, not bitter?
Although I’ve dealt with some hardships, overall, my life has been pretty cushy. I’ve never wondered if I’d be fed, sheltered, or loved. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship or faced a life-threatening illness. I’ve never sunk into addiction or said goodbye to anyone I wouldn’t see again one day. I have been saved by a loving Father and I know where my soul rests.
Sometimes I forget how brief this course is and I get snagged up on the obstacles, thinking that’s all that life has to offer me and I should somehow find a way to avoid the pain and hardship, when the beautiful growth comes as result of those things, not in avoiding them.
When an athlete trains for a champion position (whether it’s weight-lifting, running, or a sport), they don’t scoff at the coaching or the discipline of a hard workout. They know the physical suffering will lead to physical victory.
Likewise, our spirits need painful training at times: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1).
If we don’t let God finish his work in us, but try to bypass the discomfort or lack of control then we miss out on developed spiritual muscle. Some may say, “that’s okay with me. I just want to be happy and comfortable. I’m okay having subpar character.” We may laugh, but if we truly act toward this end, we’ve missed out on one of the greatest purposes Christ set within us: to die to self and pick up our cross and carry out His commission in servant leadership to a world dying. And we miss out on the power of His strength made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). What are we doing that requires dependence on Him?
This week, I have dealt with some anxiety (over minor stuff, I assure you) and it’s easy for me to whine, “Why, God?” and it’s easy for me to try to regain control in other areas of my life (e.g. I usually start cleaning my house like a crazy woman).
In the last month and a half, I’ve faced some painful experiences with my body, to the point where I was in tears and couldn’t move without assistance. The anxiety settled around these physical ailments because I knew I was rather helpless to make them go away on my own (sometimes even professionals couldn’t help me) and I felt like my life wasn’t my own anymore. I don’t need to control everyone else, but I sure want to be able to control my own body (and God was reminding me that even that desire is an illusion). Every breath I breathe is a merciful gift from the Father. I don’t know what hardships I will have to endure before I say goodbye to this fallen world, but I do know that my weakness is okay. My humanity reminds me that God is King on the throne, not me. And any chance I have to submit is good.
The last two days I asked God, “What do you want me to learn? What am I believing about you that is erroneous?” The answer? The startling reality is I often believe that I am on my own; that it’s up to me to fix me and that He won’t step in. And in order to feel safe, I need to feel in control. When I saw that lie, I repented, “Lord, I am not my own god. You are in charge of my life. And whatever the obstacle course looks like, I will trust you to walk with me through to the other side.”
Complete trust demands we surrender all; I don’t have to know the future, I don’t even have to fully understand what’s going on in the present. But I do need to be willing to obey, to listen, and to rest in faith that He knows and He has got me in the palm of his hand.
So back to my original questions at the beginning of this quarantine time. I believe God is patiently teaching this stubborn girl to let Him be God and to obey (even if no one else does, even if no one else understands, and even if it brings me great discomfort). I don’t want to get caught up in the minor things–making mountains out of mole hills–and forget my eternal mission here. I spend so much of life wasting it on things that have no significance and I don’t want to keep on that path.
I am going to trip and fall more than I will stomp steady, but I know that He is in the getting up again too. So, whether my steps march to His in perfect sync (they won’t) or I stumble along behind Him, I am assured that He who began this work in me will complete it when He returns (Phil. 1:6).