I walked outside to pray this week and stared up at the sky. The moon was out and it was eerily quiet, which made me feel even smaller as I began my prayer.
At first, I prayed about what you probably pray for - safety for my family and loved ones, job security for friends and family who own small businesses, healing for those who are sick, and miracles amid such devastation in the U.S. And then I said the words, “God we just need you to save us,” and in a moment God responded, and said, “Yes, you do, but this virus is not the only thing that you need to be saved from.”
One of the most unsettling matters that I have become confronted with during this quarantine has been my utter selfishness and depravity. What about you? Maybe you have observed personal sinfulness in the way you have interacted with others. Maybe you have seen it on trips to the grocery store where people are fighting over toilet paper. What is going on in our world? Why, when we are put in situations that we feel vulnerable, does our sinful nature come alive and rear its ugly head? Just this week, the news reported a spike in child abuse cases across the country since the quarantine began. Why? And why do these situations bring out wickedness in the hearts of men?
Below are some questions that we as believers need to ask ourselves during this season, and need to make sure we get right.
What is your foundation?
In Matthew Chapter 7, we see the story of the two men who heard the words of Jesus and went to build a house. One built his house on a rock; it probably took longer, cost more, but it became founded on something strong. The other built his house in the sand; it was fast and easy. But then rains came, floodwaters rose, and only one house remained after the storm passed: the one founded on the rock.
Jesus told this parable for times like today when we find ourselves amid unbelievable hardship. If our foundation in this life is built on anything other than Christ, we will be swept away by the storms of life; Tony Evans puts it like this: “You cannot build a skyscraper life on a chicken coop's foundation."
What you build your hope on matters. What you build your life on matters.
If our hope is found in possessions, comfort, and peace, then times like these will shake us to our core and expose us for who we truly are.
Are there cracks in the foundation of your life? When times like these come do you feel lost and hopeless? Is your hope in Jesus or yourself? Do you believe that he is in control and that he is, as the Book of Romans says, working all things together for our good? (Romans 8:28)
What is your identity?
In the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Hebrew men refused to obey a law that stated they must worship the image of a king. The king has them bound, brought to him standing in front of a giant furnace, and gives them one more chance to obey the law. If you know the story, you remember that they refuse and that God rescues them from the fire, causing the king to praise God. But one of the coolest parts of this story is found in their response to the king when he gives them a chance to worship before they are killed. "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17)
What an amazing picture of faith! Maybe a better way of saying it - what an awesome picture of people who found their identity in their God.
What would you say defines you? Is it your job? Your car? Your status? Is your life marked by the success, or failures, that you have experienced? When seasons like this come and we are stripped down to what we find our identity in, oftentimes, we learn that we have some areas in our life that we still need to surrender to God. Charles Spurgeon sums up the idea by saying, "Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.”
Where is your identity? Can you stand in the fire, or pandemic, and say that even if God doesn’t deliver you, you won’t change your heart towards him?
Are you letting Christ transform you?
One of the hardest tasks for men that I have counseled has been their willingness to allow God to change the dark parts of their hearts. We can all relate to that! It’s much easier to accept God’s forgiveness for the big and obvious ways we have failed in the past than it is to let Him into the uncomfortable areas of our life. You know what I am talking about - the things that you keep hidden from the world, those things that your spouse doesn’t even know that you struggle with. It is in these seeds that we try to keep buried that the devil can grow his most lethal attacks in our lives. It is in these dangerous secrets that, when circumstances are just right, we fall into sins that we never thought we could. Look at what we see happening today - child abuse has spiked, theft is on the rise, and fear, anxiety, and despair run rampant. Why? Because for some but not all of us, we have kept hidden areas of our life that God has called us to surrender. Unresolved bitterness and anger always lead to the destruction of either yourself or someone you care about. Prosperity born faith crumbles when faced with mounting debt and uncertainty. Relationships without forgiveness fester.
What is groaning in your heart? What have you come face to face with during this time that you didn’t even know was within you?
We need a savior who can fix that which we cannot. We need a God who can step into the darkness and bring us light. Simply put, we need Jesus, and for so much more than healing from this pandemic. And the greatest news of all is that He stands ready to heal if we will call upon his name. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land."
God stands willing and able to heal our hearts. Are you calling?
The River Church Staff