I’m sure you, just like me, are over this “sheltering in place” and ready for life to return to “normal.” I think we can all acknowledge that we will have a “new normal” following this Pandemic of 2020 … similar to how we did after 9-11. And each of us will need to be making our own decisions on how we will live our future lives in light of this. That’s not what I want to talk about today. Instead, I want to share some thoughts on HOW we live, believe, and think TODAY that will help us come out on the other side using this time to have grown personally and spiritually.
I was reading through my Reading Journal (see my post “How I Remember the Good Stuff I Read”) from past May months and came across several excerpts from May 2016 that coincide with life in May 2020. Not sure what was happening at that time that caused me to write these things down, but here we are again.
In the Old Testament in Daniel chapter 3 is the story of three young men who refused to worship an earthly King and were thrown into a fiery furnace that should have killed them immediately. Instead they were walking around in the fire and when the King called them to come out, everyone saw that the “…fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” Obviously big win for God and an incredible miracle (I encourage you to read the whole story.) But I think there are several things from this story that we can apply to our situation today.
As Bishop Jim Swilley says so beautifully in his May 9th devotional excerpt in “A Year in the Now,”
I recognize that my fiery trial is releasing something wonderful in me for the world to witness and burning off of me what needed to go anyway. I will emerge healthier and sharper, optimistic and not cynical, being thankful in all things. I will stay protected in the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of His wings … I will live as a trophy of grace, triumphant in God, causing Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” … I hold on to five wonderful words of wisdom, “and it came to pass” knowing that this, too, shall pass. I will walk in the confidence I need to get to the other side. The world will not cave in on me today, the sky will not fall, God will not exit His throne, and I will not go under.
And he concludes with a prayer, “Father, help me to come through the fire without the smell of smoke!” I don’t know about you, but this inspires me! We are not victims of this virus or in anything the world throws at us. We are warriors and over comers … and we need to live like it!
But how do we do that in reality, when tough things are truly surrounding us? Only one way … trusting that God knows, He has it all, and He will use it for His good, His perfect plan and purpose. A.W. Tozer puts it this way,
God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark. “What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and peace. I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is my secret. Trust me, and be not afraid.” With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?
Yes, it does come down to trusting Him. And I know that can be harder for some than others based on your current relationship with Jesus, your upbringing, and your past experiences. But I can promise you, He is worth our trust. Again in the Old Testament, we find this reminder from King David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:11-14,
“For everything in heaven and earth is Yours … wealth and honor come from You for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and at Your discretion people are made and given strength … everything we have comes from You.”
Because I trust in God and who He says He is, these thoughts and verses remove my fear of today, and my fear of the future. I am not putting my head in the sand. I know there is the possibility of great economic upheaval and physical ramifications. And my life could look significantly different a year from now. But I am choosing to trust in the God who has shown Himself in so many ways in my life; and the God who has demonstrated His trustworthiness throughout history in the stories of millions throughout time.
Do I like to think about what these future world changes might be? Nope! I know that where my thoughts go, my mind, emotions, and energy will also go. So again, I have to continue to choose what I allow into my mind whether it is from listening to those around me, the media, or my own late-night rambling thoughts. They will not bring peace, nor will they bring anything positive to those around me. Instead I can be an encouragement, a light … pointing others to the only One who truly can do anything about what is going on in our world today.
So where do we go with this? So much goes back to our thought life and as I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, I am reminded there is a time for everything … and this too shall pass. And when it does, I want to come out without the smell of smoke! How about you?