If you'd asked me what the year 2020 would hold, I am confident I never would've considered a pandemic. The current state of our country and our world have changed our courses and led us to make huge adjustments in our lives. For essential workers, hours may seem longer with greater health risks. For those working from home, it may prove to be difficult and unproductive. Some are even without jobs. Young families are improvising with schools shut down and no open parks to release the energy. Churches are unable to gather in their normal manner, and many of us are wishing we could visit with friends and family. We're confined to certain spaces and for many of us, our day to day looks much the same. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, we've been encouraged to take precautions we've never thought of taking. We're faced with a situation many of us have never faced in our lifetime.
When we are surrounded by circumstances like these, we may be surprised at what we learn about ourselves. Maybe we find ourselves more impatient, more irritable, more restless or fill in the blank. Maybe we find ourselves annoyed by trivial things or taking out our emotions on those we love. We likely see sin in our lives that we were not privy to. Our temptation may be to brush it off and blame it on the present happenings. We might assume that if everything was back to normal, we wouldn't respond in the ways that we have been responding. We might assume if we could just get out of the house we would be fine. But the truth is, our circumstances only expose what's really going on in our hearts. It's not a circumstance problem, it's a sin problem. And we must be prudent in exposing our sin to the very core. We need to take a hard look at what the root of our responses are. Is it control? Are we struggling to trust God in the disorder and change? Is it anger? Are we overwhelmed and frustrated by what we see in the world? Is it anxiety? Are we worried and fearful of what's to come? What is it that catches us off guard and puts us off course? What makes us realize that everything isn't fine and well?
We have an opportunity when we are hard-pressed on every side to take a good look at what is making us respond in certain ways. Luke 6:45b says, "it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks." Our words, our thoughts, our perceptions, and our actions all point to something more internal. In whatever way we find ourselves responding, we need to ask:
What am I believing about God and what am I believing about myself? Do my responses reveal that God is trustworthy? Do my responses reveal that I am trusting in my own strength? Do my responses reveal that God is loving and kind? Do my responses reveal that I'm not getting my way? Do my responses reveal that God is sovereign? Ask yourself the hard questions and beg the Lord to expose you. Pray for patience, kindness, and gentleness to pour out of your words and actions towards others. Ask your spouse, family, or roommates to identify areas they've seen you struggling in. Find comfort in the work of sanctification and lean on the Lord for understanding.
In order to see change and work in our hearts, we need God's help to get to the root of our sin. We need to search our hearts and minds and test ourselves against the Word. We need to expose the lies in our hearts that lead us to turn away from God or lead us to try to take matters into our own hands. We need grace and wisdom, and truth to ground us in our hearts when things around us seem to crumble.
The crisis we're in will expose our hearts in new ways. This is a gracious and loving gift from God that He shows us our sin. In His kindness, He is revealing anything that entangles us or deceives us from walking in obedience. As our Great Physician, though His work may be painful at times, He is removing that which is harmful and deadly in our lives. He refuses to leave us to ourselves, and His ultimate desire is to make us more like Jesus in whatever circumstances present themselves. He will never waste an opportunity to prepare His people for heaven. May this hope humble us, prepare us, and comfort us.