The Answer You May Not Be Looking For

Have you felt at a time in your life that you wanted just to give up or quit? Maybe it was a particular job, a relationship, a goal you had set, or just on life in general. What made you want to give up?
By now, you probably are wanting to give up and quit the restrictions that are in place for staying at home. I’ve found it particularly tricky being at home all day and only interacting with co-workers, friends, and family over video chat. So to get out of the house, I’m running and using the Couch to 5K routine. In contrast, when I’m struggling, the temptation to quit the restrictions has rapidly come to mind because I’m tired of feeling confined and isolated. Are you feeling something similar?
When in a conversation with someone, what would be your response to the question, what is the purpose of COVID-19? How would you answer that? Do you even feel knowledgeable or equipped to answer? What is their angle? What do you mean ‘purpose’? The answer can go so many ways.
I want to suggest what I believe is one answer, and particularly, one response for us as the people of the Church.
I recently heard Francis Chan share in a video he filmed from his new home in Hong Kong. As always with him, he offered grace and truth—an invitation to Jesus, but with a challenge to wake us back to life. I have spent a fair bit of time reflecting on what he shared. Out of that reflection, I’m seeking to answer the question at hand, and I think you also are possibly asking the same question; what is the purpose of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Church.
In these six weeks of being under ever-increasing restrictions, what passage of scripture first comes to mind? It was always going to be Psalm 46:10. One of the most famous and quoted verses from the Bible. But at the same time, one of the most important verses to remind ourselves with and meditate on right now.

Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honoured by every nation.
I will be honoured throughout the world.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

I believe God wants to humble us within these days, weeks, and months, by showing us that we are not in control of anything. Personally, we are not in control of our lives. We cannot control tomorrow, or the day after. I bet in January, you set goals or new year resolutions for 2020. That’s probably something you have already given up on. In fact, trending right now is how much people are saying, “Can we just skip 2020 and move on to 2021?” We want to bypass this year and move forward because 2020 has been tough already. I get that feeling, but the temptation is from a place of control. Skipping over is trying to take the situation and place it in our hands and control for our benefit. What would happen if we took the time to stop and ask God what He wants to do and show us during this challenging period? I think one thing is to show us that we aren’t in control and that He is. If we stopped there, the response has to be humility. We would be right-sizing ourselves before our mighty, trustworthy, and big God.
Maybe you need to pause at this moment before continuing to read on and ask yourself that question.

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says,
“He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.”

James 4:5 (ESV)

“What you’re telling me, there’s a God in heaven, and the Bible says that He sits on his throne with unapproachable light, and with lightning, thunder, and fire all around. A hundred million Angels are worshipping Him, and yet it says that He yearns jealously for me?” – Francis Chan
God yearns jealously for you and me. And, that may be the purpose of this time in isolation is God saying, I want to be with you. When I read the Bible, it is not hard for me to see and believe that. We have the choice to stop running, slow down, and be with God Almighty.
In this video of Francis sharing, he describes the culture of Hong Kong and the pressures the people have to live up to. He related it to running on a treadmill; you can’t get off, and you have to keep running. It doesn’t seem like we are too different here. We want to give up and quit because we are told to keep on running. When, in fact, God says the opposite, “Slow down. Retreat. Come to the quiet place and be with me.”
What is the purpose of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Church, so you and I as Christians? Quite simply put, to stop and know He is God and we are not.

You just read that God earnestly wants to be with you, and longs for you to slow and quieten down to spend time with Him. We have created the Abide Pack to be a resource and a place for you to start. Each day we have provided daily readings, prayers, journaling prompts, and unique spiritual practices. But our desire is not for you to treat it like a religious check-list. If you only slowed down to pray in the evening because of the Pack, that is a connection with God more than you would have if you didn’t pick up the Abide Pack. We invite you to download yours today!

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About the Author: stu barton

Stu serves as our Young Adults Pastor within our church. He gives vision, teaching, and leadership to BYA. He is both British and American as he was born in Liverpool, England, and lived in California, USA, before moving to Edmonton in 2016. He is married to Sarah and has two kids, and one on the way this summer. Pastor Stu desires to see this generation become resilient disciples by being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and practicing the ways of Jesus. It won’t take long for you to see that he loves people deeply, but also loves the original football (soccer) maybe a little too much!