As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, and Ontario enters its second full lockdown, with new government directives that leave many questions unanswered, all of us are getting a little battle-weary. Couple this with the political turmoil south of the border and you have more than enough discouragement to fatigue even the most stalwart soul.
When we are in the midst of a battle, one important key to victory is perspective. If we can see the enemy and the battleground, we can fight much more effectively. This morning as I was waking up, a dream fragment told me my God was trying to get my attention. With three simple words He gave me that precious gift of renewed perspective. The words came from a 1979 Arlo Guthrie album title – one I used to love but had not listened to for years.
Outlasting the Blues.
I had been asking the Lord to help me understand why we seem so powerless against this pandemic. Didn’t he bestow upon His apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, including the power to heal diseases?
He patiently reminded me that the gifts of the Holy Spirit don’t guarantee that we will have no more troubles in this age. To the contrary, Jesus made it clear to His apostles that in this world they would have trouble. In the midst of troubled times, times of great need, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is a great blessing and source of comfort. But the gifts He gives are signs of the Age to Come – a deposit on our inheritance. They are given to empower us, to give us hope and resources with which we can help others. They are not given to exempt us from trouble.
We who live in North America have been so used to relative peace and prosperity that we have developed an entire theology to tell us that what God really wants for us is a comfortable life here and now. I like my comforts as much as the next person, but I know my Bible and my God well enough to know there’s something wrong with that theology. And I know it even better now than I did before COVID.
We are in a time when God is shaking many things. We are experiencing birth pangs. There will be more birth pangs. I have never given birth, but I did accompany my wife through the birth of all four of our children, and all her labours were long ones. Even the shortest was about ten hours long. I can tell you two things about that experience. First, it was hard and long and painful and messy, and she wanted it to be over long before it was. Second, after each child was born she had absolutely no regrets about the experience. It had all been worth the struggle.
The Bible tells us that God’s plan is to make all things new. He is preparing a glorious bride for his Son, and looking for those who will persevere in prayer and faith, hold on to hope, and seek to grow in love as they wait for God to finish his work.
I don’t want to just escape into distractions while I wait for the pandemic to be over. That would be a waste of a good test. Tests are given for a reason. I want to be one of the ones who don’t quit, who keep their eyes on the prize and share in the glories of the new heaven and earth in the age to come.
By the grace of God I am determined to outlast the blues. How about you?