In this crazy time of COVID-19, there’s a question that keeps haunting me: “Where am I placing my hope?”
Is it in the security of an economically booming economy? In having and maintaining good health? In my savings or fully stocked pantry? In a medicinal cure? In the distractions of another day of outings, entertainment, and friends? Or is it just in the fact that soon we will get back to “normal”?
As fears and anxieties have continued to swirl within me the last few weeks, and I kept obsessively searching the internet for some source of hope (a promising treatment, or another country ending their time of quarantine) in order to calm my frazzled nerves, I knew something was dreadfully wrong with the state of my heart. Well, honestly, I’ve known that something was wrong for a long time.. but when life seems good, it’s much easier to shove fears and difficult questions into a corner. Atleast until your sense of control and security are utterly shaken, and you’re left in an empty room with nothing to do but acknowledge that they’re there.
Questions like: “Can God truly love ME? Is He REALLY a good God? If He is, then why does He let such horrible things happen? What if He lets me go through something terribly painful? What is it He really wants from me while I’m on this earth? Am I truly willing to do whatever that may be? What will life after death really be like? How can I desire eternity when I can’t even comprehend it?”
So many questions. So many years of running from them. So many times I’ve felt like an utter fraud as I profess to be a woman of faith, and yet I know deep down how tenuous my faith really is. How can I meaningfully tell someone about the Good News, of my hope in Jesus, when I as a believer don’t even know how to fully put my hope in Him?
As humans, our survival instincts are very strong. For whatever reason, mine seem to have been heavily triggered at a young age, as I found myself afraid of so many things – the dark, being alone, heights, pain, rejection, failure, death, even life after death. Stuck in this constant state of fear and the primal need to simply survive another day, I found controlling my surroundings and others as the best way to provide myself with a sense of safety. Anything I couldn’t understand, and therefore couldn’t control, was considered a major threat and was promptly removed or ignored. But there was just one problem… the person who was supposed to be the center of my life was also at the center of my biggest questions: God. I knew I believed in Him, I knew there was no way our entire existence was an accident, but I didn’t.. or rather couldn’t, fully understand Him nor His plan. That was where faith was supposed to come in. But complete faith feels so dangerous… totally surrender and give up control? I would read stories of the Apostles and the ways they were beaten and killed in such gruesome ways and think, “But what if He allows me to go through something like that?”
So here I find myself, in the midst of a pandemic where simply going to the grocery store feels threatening, and allowing myself to think about it too much causes me to curl up in a fetal position, no good to anyone. I know I’m at a crossroads. I know I can’t continue living this way any longer… just simply surviving. Staying in limbo land where any future stress will send me right back to this place of hopelessness because the root cause still hasn’t been dealt with, and the core question hasn’t been answered: Can I truly trust God?
I think it’s a question many of us, believers and unbelievers alike, are being faced with right now. Panic breaks out in the midst of trial and tribulation because we can’t handle living in a world without feeling some sense of safety and security, even if it’s only a veneer. When all of the things we’ve spent our lives trusting in – our money, our possessions, other people, entertainment, lusts of the flesh, the government – are suddenly stripped away, what are we left with? Where can we find hope? Where is a safe place to put our faith? Is God truly trustworthy, even when He’s allowing bad things to happen?
Tomorrow at sunset begins the day of Passover. The day when the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood on their door posts in order to save their first borns from the death angel that passed over Egypt. Before this year, I never truly considered what faith it must have taken for them to believe that the blood would be enough to protect them. They had nine other plagues as proof of God’s power, and they knew a death angel was coming. How many of them thought that staying in their homes and trusting that Moses had heard God correctly, was risky? How many saw the bad things that God was sending on the Egyptians, even the innocent children, and wondered whether they could truly trust in God’s goodness and mercy on their families? How many were overcome with a fear of death, despite being promised protection?
How interesting that thousands of years later, we find ourselves heading into the closest version of Passover that we’ve ever experienced. We’ve been told to stay in our homes. We know there’s a virus out there taking life after life, and we ask God “Why does this have to happen?”. Many of us are struggling with a fear of death…. and God is still asking, “Do you trust Me? Do you trust the blood to cover you?”
I look at my children and I think of how I love them. Of how innocent they are; completely oblivious to what’s currently going on in our world. They are at total peace because they trust their Daddy and I to always take care of them. I think of how I would do anything to protect them from pain, but then I realize… it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes in order to protect our children from lasting emotional, mental, and spiritual pain, we have to allow them to experience physical pain. We have to make judgement calls every day, weighing the risk versus the reward. We know that a parent who is truly looking out for the best interests of their child will slowly allow them independence and the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. A coddled child become spoiled, ungrateful, resentful, lazy… and rather than experiencing some pain early on that allows them to grow stronger, they are likely to experience a life of suffering because of what their parents took from them – opportunity for growth, wisdom by experience, responsibility, freedom of choice, and the ability to know what true love looks like.
Our responsibility as parents isn’t simply to keep our kids alive, it’s to teach them how to live life abundantly. And then it hits me… is this not also how God cares for us? What kind of love would he have for us if He stopped every bad thing from happening? If He coddled us and only allowed us to live a perfect life? If He took away our free will? We’d be ruined. True love… the kind where two people actively choose each other, would be lost. Like us, He will do everything He can to protect the lives of His children. But His focus is on the big picture…. and that’s preserving our eternal lives, not merely our physical ones.
So this brings me back to Passover. Because the Israelites covering their home in the blood of lambs and the physical deaths of the Egyptians wasn’t the big picture… the atoning blood of Jesus that made eternal life available to all, was. Our Father allowed His firstborn son to be sacrificed, because it was the only way to save His children from a life of bondage leading to death.
When we step outside of our current struggles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and try to view things from a big picture perspective, what comes into focus? What areas of our lives is God working to bring us out of bondage? Where is He proclaiming freedom over us?
For too long I have believed that life is only worth living when things are easy. That God can only truly be a good Father if He keeps bad things from happening to His children. But I’m realizing that by having these incorrect beliefs, I’ve been setting myself up for nothing but failure and disappointment; for an absolute breakdown when I come up against any type of adversity. Just like in the garden, the devil is still using lies about God’s intentions to plant seeds of doubt in our hearts. He knows that if he can keep us from trusting in our One and Only Hope, we will willingly relenquish our God given power to overcome even the most difficult of trials; that we will crumple in defeat and he will win without so much as a fight. Currently, he’s attempting to use COVID-19 to fill us so full of fear that we become distracted from the truth that Passover proclaims, and that is that DEATH HAS BEEN DEFEATED!
So let’s stand against the powers of darkness and say “No more! We have already been declared victorious! May the church arise stronger than it ever was before! May hope in the one and only God be restored! May many hearts be turned back to God and this nation and world repent of it’s evil ways! May we learn to TRULY trust our Father, no matter what is going on around us! May this Passover season be the most meaningful and life changing we have ever experienced!”
It’s going to be a battle. It’s not going to be easy. Our anxieties and questions may not go away overnight… but God will never stop chipping away at the lies that have opened the door to them, and He will never stop calling us to run into His arms when we struggle.
May we find relief knowing that during this time the skeletons in our closet are finally being dealt with. May we have a strange sense of longing to exchange our old version of “normal” for a new one, may we be filled with an insatiable hunger for spiritual freedom over physical, and a increased sense of excitement to see how God will refine us in this fire. May it be here…in this time where everything else is stripped away, that we find our hope.