How are you doing in lockdown, emotionally, physically and spiritually?
How can anyone prepare themselves for a time like this, but if I’ve learnt anything it’s that God will get you through and he’ll strengthen you in the process.
It all boils down to what we put our hope in. For me it came to my attention there were areas in my life that needed addressing. And one of those was the source of my security and comfort.
Is it in my income, in the things I have, the holidays I go on, or all of those little treats that make me feel nice, or do I put my trust 100% in God? And honestly I thought I did. I really believed that my faith was so strong. Solid and unshakeable and to an extent it was. But when this whole thing began, I have to admit I started to feel nervous, scared even. I had horrible thoughts of civil unrest. I remembered studying the 1930’s Great Depression in American History and seeing pictures of queues for food, and devastating homelessness and thinking could that happen again? I let my imagination run wild and fuelled it with news reports. I even lost a bit of weight as I’d lost my appetite!
I had thought that I was pretty secure in my knowledge of who God is and who I am to him. This has shown me there were gaps. God, of course, knew that and what this time has allowed me to do is to go through those areas with him and to allow him to dig out the root of insecurity.
You know when God is trying to tell you something when a bible verse or passage keeps coming up. And for me it’s been the book of Job. As you’ll most probably know, Job loses everything.
Up until this time, I don’t think I’d ever read the book of Job in its entirety, or if I have I’ve not allowed its meaning to sink in. So I made a cup of coffee, picked up my bible and sat in my chair by the window and read it in one sitting.
Forty two chapters later I discover that there is so much to take in from this book. And I recommend, as well as reading the book for yourself (if you haven’t already), you look at the The Bible Project to get a good understanding of what Job goes through.
Job does nothing wrong to deserve what happens to him. Satan says to God, if you take away everything he has, will Job still follow you? God allows Satan to have access to Job’s life and rob him of his children, health and security.
That got me thinking. What if that happened to me? What if I went through the same level of suffering as Job? Would I still say “the Lord gives and takes away but blessed be his name”? Seriously. Have you ever allowed your thoughts to go there? What if everything is taken away. Would you still worship, would you still read your bible? Or would you run from God, would you resent your friends. Would you become angry and bitter?
When the stuff hits the fan, will we still be singing “you make me brave”? Or is it because we live in comfort that we’re able to worship God?
What about the Christians who are persecuted for their faith? Whose everyday living is a battle and who might find themselves imprisoned for saying they follow Jesus. Are they “living life to the full”? Do they have a nice safe and cosy existence?
What we also learn in Job is how his friends jump to conclusions about his suffering. Believing it’s due to sin in his life. They make suggestions about what they think he should do and offer their advice. And as I’m reading this, I’m beginning to recall circumstances when I’ve done the same thing! Definitely needed to ask forgiveness for that.
I heard someone say about this crisis that we’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us will experience hardship as a result of this. We might lose a family member or friend. We might lose our income. It’s all possible.
Some will come through this season unscathed. They might even find things are better for them than before. Should they be smug? And can we be pleased for them, even if what’s going on for us isn’t as easy?
For me I’ve decided I want to learn how to stand firm. How to build resilience. How to “run the race with perseverance”. I’m keeping my feet on solid ground, Jesus the rock.
Fortunately God is kind and gracious and merciful. And it’s his nature to forgive. So I’ve taken some time with him and allowed him to highlight the areas in my life where I was standing on sinking sand. I don’t want to be there. I like my shoes.
I chatted to a friend and shared how I was feeling. I took that to be my confession (see James 5:16). And then I asked God to forgive me.
And now I feel like a massive weight has been taken off my shoulders. Literally. The peace is unbelievable.
The other thing that God flagged with me was a need to fully surrender (I think that is an ongoing work in progress kind of thing). But I wanted to say to God, no matter what might happen, I trust you. I hold onto your promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God.”
It was an absolute relief to get to the end of the book of Job and to see that it doesn’t end in disaster. There is a happy ending. Job doesn’t walk off into obscurity and hopelessness. In fact it says “God blessed the latter part of his life more than the former part.”
So hold on tight. Dig deep. And remember that God is in control.
By Jane Kirby