Contained and Confronted

I overheard Rufus reassuring Billy the other day. I’m fairly sure Billy is not in anyway anxious (more likely to be the one causing anxiety!), but nevertheless Rufus was telling him not to worry because God is so big He can kick this virus out. It echoes a couple of prayers from Ru recently. A wonderful conviction that God means business when it comes to the Coronavirus. I chimed into their conversation and suggested that God was so big, He could be doing things even now, while the virus is still here. Rufus’ quick response was to say yes, of course, like planning how to kick the virus out.

Brilliant and encouraging belief in the mighty strength of our big God, possibly influenced by watching goodies kick out baddies every now and then!

I’m as convinced as my four year old son that God can kick this virus, but I’m also sure that He is doing big things while all of this is going on. I have no doubt that He is working in our world, in and through His people, calling others to himself and stripping us of much so that we might just see Him all the more clearly. He’s with us in the grief and lament; he’s with us in the struggles of loneliness and uprooted routines; he’s with us in the suffering and sadness that comes with a global pandemic.

But God is not standing still, just waiting for things to get back to ‘normal’. He is not restricted, His word is not caged, and His spirit is most definitely active. God is pushing on with His saving, rescuing plan. While our perspective might have been thrown, God’s perspective – anchored in unchangeables – is clear and working all things out with eternal good and glory in mind. Paul writes, in Romans 5, that ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’. I love the reality that production rather than paralysis is happening through challenges and hardship. Whatever the circumstances, God is not standing still and so we are not stuck – He is at work in us, changing us, making us more like Jesus, even when stationary in our homes.

One of the uglier aspects of being at home. without distraction or escape, is being confronted with my sin again and again. When selfishness takes hold of my heart, I can quickly see the results in the way I’m treating my children at that moment. When impatience creeps in as everyday tasks drag on, I can hear it in my voice, echoing in the absence of other people. When frustration or self-pity nudge their way into my idle thoughts, I have a clear view if my spiralling thought process and attitude to my situation.

A friend and I were talking this week about this confrontation while contained, and were reminding each other that it’s a good thing to see our sin. As our sin rears its head in full view, our hearts are on show and we’re suddenly more aware of our need for a Saviour, of our need for a clean heart, of our need for Jesus. The cross, with all it’s sin-taking glory, is all the more wonderful to me. I wonder if this is one of the ways in which God is powerfully, and painfully, at work – showing us our sin, causing us to run to Jesus, and so growing us in character as – by grace –  we more eagerly want to choose God’s way rather than our own way.

I’m still praying, along with Rufus, that God would kick this virus out but I’m also praying that I’d respond to what He is doing in my own hearts amidst these strange times.

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