And in just a few days, everything changes. Suddenly, about 90% of my Facebook feed is about the Coronavirus. It makes my brain feel cluttered with charts and memes and opinions and advice and scolding. I get it: This crisis is a big deal and we’re all eager to share our thoughts and beliefs about it with our community.
To be honest, I don’t have a chart or meme that will help you. I could post, “God is in control” (and He is) – or “Just trust in the Lord” (and I do), but without a deep understanding of why we should trust in Him, that won’t help anyone else. Our emotions and reactions to a crisis come out of who we are and our most deeply-held beliefs.
What I do have is a starting point for becoming a person who has a clear understanding of life and death and isn’t afraid. Not a quick fear fix, I know, but actually … it’s way better than that.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about this week. About 5 years ago, I was at a party when someone asked what our greatest fears were.
Me: “Running out of toilet paper.”
So yep. Here we are. Those long aisles of trusty, abundant, white rolled, plastic-wrapped resources – Charmin, Northern, Angel Soft, Kroger brand – EMPTY. And the normally steadfast soaps and hand sanitizers have deserted their post as well. What once was taken for granted is now treasured. All because things around us changed.
My daughter’s senior year of college – auditions, trips, concerts, classes with great teachers, awards ceremonies – terminated without warning. My company hustling to respond to our clients’ needs in this situation. My other daughter’s income as a voice teacher in question.
We are all feeling it. Income interrupted. Kids home from school. Work complications. Sporting events cancelled. Fears about getting sick, about our medical system collapsing, about “mortality challenges” (as I’ve heard death so nicely described).
When it first started falling down – all the Coronavirus cancellations, etc. – it just kept surprising me. I told a few people, “This has never happened in my lifetime. It’s unprecedented.” They agreed. We struggled at first to understand the threat.
So often we have strong opinions when we don’t have full understanding.
And then things around us change. And when they change, does what you know … truly believe … hold firm?
For some of you, life had already changed. My heart had been hurting for suffering friends even before “Corona” meant more than a beer. I almost wrote this blog then. But sometimes the words circle around in my head and don’t organize themselves as they should. For some of you, life changed in a doctor’s office, when a parent fell, with a telephone call, when you found something on a computer, with new worries for your child, or when your spouse began forgetting too many things.
Some of you find yourselves walking around with a tight ball inside your chest or stomach, too busy or stressed to identify that uncomfortable feeling as … fear?
Some of you wake up in the morning and enjoy about one second of mental calm before the reality of your current situation travels back into your brain and sits there like an elephant until you go to sleep that night.
How do I know? I’ve been there. I get it. We like comfort and predictability – if something’s going to change, we want to be the one to change it. Because we’re IN CONTROL. Right?
Yeah, we’re not in control. We never were. That was a deception. And times like these have the potential to be a great gift to us. The gift of the bigger picture, of truth that will free us from fear, of a glimpse of all the ways we are living life deceived. Because folks, everything is going to change – whether this month or much later. Things change and we can’t stop it. We need a firm foundation that won’t change when everything else falls apart.
“Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
There are things we learn in trials and suffering that we can’t learn anywhere else. Important things. It’s a painful, hard land to travel through. It’s also a land of unequaled opportunity with the potential to gain wisdom, understanding, and treasure that far outlasts the suffering.
The book of Job is all about a Godly man who suffered. Job is described as a “man of complete integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil.” Yet everything was stripped away from Job (wealth, family, and health). Only then did he turn to the God he had already trusted, but now with a deeper understanding. “My ears had heard of you, but now my eye sees You.” Those last five words echo in my head.
Over the past few years, God enrolled me in the school of learning through the fire. It has been an incredible place. Hard. But Good. Still here in school. Learning so much. Changed and glad. So, so many things make sense now that never did before, even as a long-time Christian. I have learned Paul’s secret of being content in any situation, of freedom from fear. I don’t have to be afraid of the Coronavirus or being alone or feeling out of control or dying.
Because now, Lord, my eye sees You.
For over a year now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about all the new things that have come into focus. These are things we have to see for ourselves, not just hear from someone else. And it has to start with the beginning, the small door that leads to an incredible journey. If you want to go through the door, do these three things:
1. The door starts at the bottom. Humble, completely honest, and definitely NOT in control. Opinions and “right-ness” set down. With that attitude, seek God daily. Pray. Read your Bible. Look for Him every day everywhere. I could give you a ton of verses that say this. It really is this simple. Just sit in the dirt with nothing but God. Immerse yourself in learning who He is. Not what you’ve thought or who you’ve heard He is … I challenge you to search and find who He really is.
2. Understand that your job this time is not to avoid trouble or fix the situation or be strong or just make the best of it. It’s to learn what God wants to teach you in it. An opening of eyes. Absolute treasure without equal.
3. Look for ways to give to others. It’s a powerful part of what you’re learning and it’s a strategy to get you through the toughest days. Give your way through it.
That’s it. There’s a reason that the Bible talks about humility so much. So often, in our culture, we’re not humble until, like Job, lots of things get stripped away from us. Humility really is a completely essential quality in order to see clearly.
Now my eye sees You.
Friends, maybe our road to humility begins where the roll of toilet paper ends. 😊 Let the transformation begin.
“When you have nowhere else to turn except to God, and you turn to Him, your faith of desperation will meet the fullness of God.” — Dallas Willard
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” — Apostle Paul (II Corinthians 12:9)
What finally allows us to merge perfectly with God’s power? Our weakness.