It's March 2020 and the world in on lockdown for COVID-19.
Please pray for those infected with the coronavirus, for their families, for those who have lost loved ones, for the medical staff working to save their lives, for those who cannot pay rent, for those without food, pray for those who have lost their jobs, for the world leaders and leaders of our nation that God gives them wisdom, for the children who don't have lunch because they aren't at school, for the elderly, for those stuck in a home with an abusive parent, family member, spouse, or partner, and pray for those without access to medical care. Please keep everyone safe by staying home and respecting the quarantine guidelines from the CDC, your state, and the government. Remember to check in on your elderly neighbors, friends with anxiety, friends with financial struggles, and if you can, donate funds to a local food bank. If you have extra supplies like toilet paper, canned goods, paper towels, disinfectant supplies, etc. please share them with those around you in need.
COVID-19: GOD'S CALLING IN QUARANTINE PART 2
In part two of this three part devotional series, we will be looking at truths about God. We will also take a look at how God uses everything. While God is good and doesn't Himself inflict pain and hurt, He uses the pain we experience as a result of a sinful and fallen world to grow us and our faith. We will see that God doesn't waste a drop of our pain, and he will not waste covid-2019
Hurts, pains, and burdens
It's very easy to see right now, amidst COVID-19, that the world is scary and painful. There are a lot of things in life that hurt, damage, cause deep pain, and honestly may really mess you up. It's silly to say, "everything happens for a reason" or "God makes everything worth it". Those aren't Biblical things you'll find in scripture, they're just cute, meaningless phrases you'll probably find on a 40% off, rustic farmhouse sign at Hobby Lobby.
God never tells us "everything happens for a reason", but here's what He does tell us:
How can He use it?
Let's talk about that last verse, Romans 8:28 first. This verse, and entire chapter, is not stating that "everything happens for a reason" and "it all happens how it's supposed to". We live in a world where we are granted free will by God and life goes down sometimes. God is inherently good [Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 34:12] and does no wrong. God is not willing people to be hurt, murdered, or brutalized or to experience loss and deep pain. Those things are consequences of a fallen, broken world where sinful people make sinful decisions. Doing God's will is an option and not everyone chooses to do it [John 7:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 12:2; Mark 3:35; 1 Peter 2:15; Psalm 143:10]. As a result, sin happens and it hurts people. Does that mean that God is evil or distant or doesn't care or is making bad things happen to you? Absolutely not; it means that God isn't a puppet master, forcing people to adhere to His will. So, what is Romans 8:28 telling us? It's saying that God is so good, He is so powerful, He is so loving, and He is so kind to us that He will use the horrible, hard, gut-wrenchingly painful things in our lives and work them out for good.
There are probably a lot of things in your life you will look back on and you will not say "that was worth it" or "I would go through it again". I would never, ever say going through cancer with a loved one, or abuse, or losing people I loved dearly was "worth it". It wasn't worth it, it didn't happen "how it was supposed to", and I would absolutely never do them again, but yet still God has used those horrible, awful, horrendous things and worked them out for good, for learning, for growing, for the testing of my faith, for His glory.
Not only does God use our hurt to grow and test our faith, He uses the painful experiences we've had to prepare us even more for our callings. You may be currently experiencing a lot of deep pain, hurt, and concern because of the trials that are coming with COVID-19. Maybe you aren't very affected by COVID-19 and are not experiencing financial, emotional, or physical pain because of it, but you have recently been through some real deal stuff in your life that has hurt you deeply. Current or not, know the pains I'm talking about: the cry so hard your stomach hurts, feeling like you're drowning, thinking there's no hope, suffocating pain. Maybe you made it through, even if only hanging by a thread. Maybe that's where you're at today. Like we reflected on in part one, no one knows why these terrible, horrendous things happen, but we do know that God always, always, always uses them and will never, ever, ever waste a drop of your tears. God is always good [Psalm 100:5], He is always faithful [1 Corinthians 1:9], He is kind [Isaiah 63:7], He is in control [Psalm 115:3], and He will never leave you [Isaiah 41:10].
There is rarely a charity, a non-profit organization, a ministry, or empathy for another person that comes about solely from feelings of happiness, delight, serendipity, sprinkled with cupcakes, glitter and rose petals. Think about it for a moment: God usually uses the depths of people's hurts and worst experiences and repurposes it as passion and empathy to help others for His glory. God uses the mother who lost her son to a disease to start a charity to raise money for other people with that disease. God uses the woman who was abandoned to have great empathy for orphans and work to help them find families. God uses the trafficking victim to work for an organization that rescues women from traffickers.
God. Uses. Everything.
Whether your pain and struggles are today or an experience you're reflecting on from the past, surrender it to God in prayer. Give Him your worst hurts and all of your burdens.
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
Let Him use the awful things you've been through. Give them over to God to let His glorious work begin.Take today to ask God: "What are you repurposed my pain for?" or "What are you going to repurpose this pain for?" Take time today to thank God that He is near to us in trouble, that He died to save our broken world, and that He doesn't waste a drop of our hurts. Ask Him, "What is my calling? What do you want me to do to serve you with my life?"
Do not let Satan take your thoughts about these things captive. Don't allow the enemy to put a filter of deceit on your eyes to see your pain for something that it's not. Give your thoughts to God and let God take them captive. Ask God "What do you want me to do, in this time, right now?"
1 Peter 5:8-11 "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
God won't waste Covid-19
God doesn't waste hurts, God doesn't waste time, and He won't waste COVID-19. God is not going to let His will for your life waste away during this quarantine, even though it may seem like it because your ministry events are cancelled and your opportunities to physically get out and do work for God are non-existent right now [stay home people]. God isn't derailing His calling on your life. Your ministry, whatever it may be, may change, it may need to move in a new direction, it may look different from now on, or it may be time for you to change and move your whole plan, but that's not a surprise to God or a wrench in His plan.
God doesn't want you to waste your time during this quarantine either. God doesn't want you to lose yourself to panic and fear and waste a valuable 14 days - who knows when. There are so many uncertainties and "I don't know"s, but I know that if God has given you solitude or hours on end or a lack of work because of a global pandemic, or maybe all three, He wants you to use those things / times wisely. Even if you can't be physically active, be active spiritually. Even if you cannot physically go to work, work for God from home. Your time is so valuable, don't let it go to waste.
Part 2 Reflections
In part two of this series, we took a look at how God uses our struggles and trials and repurposes them for His calling for our lives. spend time with God in His Word and in prayer, asking for direction for your life. Ask God: "What's your calling for my life?" and "What are you calling me to do today, during covid-19, in my present circumstances?" Spend your time wisely. Thank God for all He is providing for you and pray for the hurting world around you.