My mom and I were at Fred Myer buying seeds for our garden.
We both had masks on—and I was also wearing my sunglasses (for some reason, I had forgotten to take them off as we were entering the store).
Now for some time, it had been my usual routine to verbally vent to those around me (usually my mom) about how my mask kept me from vital access to oxygen. “I can’t breathe!” I would exclaim, ripping my mask off as soon as we exited pretty much anywhere.
At this moment in Fred Myer, however, I noticed something else in addition to my lack of oxygen: I couldn’t see.
As was my usual habit, my mouth opened to point out this awful fact: “I can’t see!” I vented. It was only then that I realized my hand was reaching for my mask… not my sunglasses.
In this awkward moment, I realized I had just been about to blame my mask for the fact that I had forgotten to take off my sunglasses.
We’ve all been affected in one way or another by the recent pandemic that has changed our world in so many ways. Wearing masks in public places. Social distancing. Seniors have lost graduations. People have lost physical community. Others have lost friends and family to illness.
Maybe you’re feeling afraid. Maybe you’re feeling angry. Or maybe, like me, you struggle with just feeling “done.” Done wearing masks. Done with change. Done with separation, uncertainty, and loss. Done with abnormal.
My heart in writing this article is to share two truths that God is currently teaching me in hopes that it will bring encouragement to your heart and embolden you to stand—to rejoice!—despite so much of the hardship that has gone on in the world these last several months.
My prayer is that these truths will show you that despite past loss, present pain, or future fear—we can still grab hold of joy by abiding in the promises found in the Word of God.
Alright, let’s dive in!
Truth #1: God wants good for us
At first glance, this seems like a basic truth. Most of us know this and would wholeheartedly proclaim it to be true.
However, a little less than a month ago, God showed me that I was not living out of this reality. In fact, I was living out of the very opposite. The narrative I was living in was one that questioned God’s goodwill toward me, feared losing his blessing, and doubted his love.
I was like Naomi in the book of Ruth, who after the tragedies of losing her husband and two sons exclaimed, “…the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1: 20b). Naomi allowed her difficult circumstances to convince her of the lie that God was against her.
Friends, isn’t this the same narrative that Satan whispered to Eve in the garden? When Satan tempted Eve, he planted in her head the idea that God was withholding something good from her. That somehow, God didn’t really want the best for her.
“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Can you hear the lie? God is withholding something good from you. You’d better take control of your own welfare because God doesn’t want what’s best for you.
Brothers and sisters, it’s time to read a different narrative. It’s time to change our perspectives and grab hold of who God says he is instead of listening to our own fears or the devil’s whispers.
When we come to the Word of God, we find the truth to combat the lies: God is for us (Romans 8:31). His blessing makes us rich (Proverbs 10:22). Jesus loves us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:2). We are chosen, royal, holy, and his (1 Peter 2:9). God will finish the work of sanctification he started in us (Philippians 1:6). God exults over us with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Jesus cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Lord establishes our steps and holds our hand (Psalm 37:23-24). It would be more possible for a mother to forget her child than for God to forget us (Isaiah 49:15). Our names are written on the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:16). God hears the desire of the afflicted and he strengthens their hearts (Psalm 10:17). The Lord makes plants grow on the earth so that we can have food and drink to gladden and strengthen our hearts (Psalm 104:14-15). God knows our weak frame and he has compassionate understanding towards us (Psalm 103:13-14). Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). God works everything for our good (Romans 8:28). God sanctifies us completely (1 Thessalonians 5:23). God uses trials to make us holy (James 1:2-4). God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).
These are not distant theological mumblings. These are the everyday realities we must abide in as Christians if we want to thrive as Jesus desires us to—no matter our circumstances.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Friends, this is amazing! Did you catch that? Not only must we believe that he is, we must also believe that he is a rewarder of those who seek his face. That is how we please God.
Drill it into your heart, mind, and soul: God. Is. For. You.
Now this doesn’t mean that God will give us everything we want. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, our sinful flesh often causes us to reach out for things that aren’t good. Sometimes, God’s “no’s” are what’s best for us.
It also doesn’t mean that our life will be pain-free. It doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer and have loss. In fact, Jesus promises that we will suffer (John 16:33). Job says that “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Trouble and pain are part of this fallen world and we will experience them.
However, when we choose to believe the truth that God wants what is good for us, we are given a hope and a strength to meet each trial with boldness and endurance. We can say with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21) because we know that in everything, God is doing what is best for us. He cares for us. He is on our side. It is because he loves us so much that he both allows us to experience hardship and pours out blessing.
Truth #2: Feelings must follow faith
This is where the battle can get a little messy.
How we feel so often fights to take our attention off what we know.
Proverbs 28:26 tells us, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Proverbs 3:5 says to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Friends, God wants to help us walk by the truth in his Word instead of being pulled apart by our emotions.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying emotions are a bad thing! Our emotions are a beautiful gift from God, and they can be used powerfully for God’s kingdom. But our emotions become a hindrance rather than a help when they start to rule us instead of serving the truth in God’s Word.
Denis de Rougemont, Swiss author and contemporary of C.S. Lewis said, “Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god.”
The same is true of our emotions.
Let’s pray that God will turn us into warriors whose emotions are willing subjects of his will. There is only one Lord—and by his grace, we will bend all to him.
And as we step out in faith, our feelings will follow.
Sing it Loud
No matter our road or the circumstances in our wild world, my prayer is that we will be people who move forward in all the confidence of Jesus.
My prayer is that we will be soldiers who will operate out of faith and stand on truth because we know that we serve a good God.
My prayer is that, by the grace of God, we will stop sighing and start singing.
You can face that giant. I can wear that mask. In all things, big and small, we can live as the humble, joyous victors God’s called us to be.
Will it be easy? Of course not. But when have we ever been after easy?
We know that God is for us. We know that we are loved. We know that we are going to win this thing. The enemy goes down!
Our world may be in chaos—but our eyes see a cross. We may not feel it—but we believe it.
Will you sing it with me?