These are hard times, and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. I can’t wait until we move to the next phase of reopening, whatever that looks like.
But I’m also aware that God works through hard times to refine us so that we’re better than before. I’m wondering what God may be teaching us, and what God may produce as we move through this time of difficulty to grow us individually and as churches.
How often I’ve thought that I could do better if I could lose some of the incessant demands on my life. I’ve lost many of those demands over the past month or so, and I’m left with the biggest problem: myself. I’m relearning how much I need God’s grace daily.
I face different demands, but I still find it easy to overcommit. I see fewer people, but I still find myself getting irritable and wanting more time for myself. The Pharisees thought the outside of the cup needed cleaning. Jesus identified the real problem: their hearts (Matthew 15:18-20). The real problem isn’t out there; my problem is me.
I’m praying that God refines me during this time, that God would lead me into deeper repentance and greater intimacy with him, and that he would chip away at the selfish and sinful areas of my life.
Growing as the Church
It says a lot about me that I began by talking about the individual. More than ever, I’m realizing how our individualistic approaches to our walk with God fail. We need the church!
Zoom calls are great. Okay, they’re not, but they’re better than nothing. But I need real, flesh and blood, face to face fellowship. I need embodied presence with God’s people. I can sing and teach the Bible on my computer, but we fool ourselves if we think it’s the same thing. I can’t wait until we’re back together again.
I need the ministry of the body. I always have, but I’ve never missed it more. I don’t think I’ve ever been as struck by the beauty and necessity of a simple, humble church as I have been in the past month. I miss it like crazy.
This time has also given me perspective on issues that need to be addressed within our local body. Time away brings into focus priorities that may have been misplaced, issues that need to be addressed, and areas that need to be strengthened. I don’t want to lose the opportunity to reflect and grow in these areas.
Someone handed a note to a pastor with these words: “Pray that God uses these days as a merciful reset of our lives.” What a great prayer.
Pray that God uses these days as a merciful reset of our lives.
We grow best in times of adversity. What Spurgeon once said is true: “I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable … Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.”
I’m praying that God works in our lives and our churches during this time of adversity to grow us, and to give us a merciful reset. May we emerge better, holier than before.