Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)
Well, this has certainly been a faith-testing week, hasn’t it? The deluge of bad news over the last few weeks seems to be never-ending. If you are listening to all the doom-and-gloom prognosticators on our 24-hour news channels, it would be very easy to conclude we have entered into an endless global nightmare that will end in the death and destruction of everyone on the planet. It doesn’t help that there are a ton of assumptions, presumptions, and just plain-old misinformed reports communicated all over traditional and social media that is leading a lot of people, including born-again Christians, to some very scary conclusions.
I would imagine most of our anxiety levels have been ratcheted up a few notches over the last week. I know I’ve had to turn off the news more than once and seek counsel and comfort in the Word of God to offset the growing fears and anxiety in my own heart and mind. Simply put, our nation hasn’t experienced this level of systemic breakdowns in our medical, financial, and political systems in nearly a century.
Seasons of famine are hardly unprecedented, even for the United States of America. Our nation’s history is filled with tales of national hardships that appeared, on the surface, to be the beginning of the end. But unless you were alive during the Great Depression of 1930s or the national hardships that came with America’s involvement in World War Two in the 1940s, this current Covid-19 crisis is an unprecedented event that has all the earmarks of a world-changing, if not world-ending, tragedy.
It’s times like these that reveals how deep the soil of our spiritual “ground” truly is and where our faith truly lies. I am afraid that far too many church attendees are starting to discover their faith was founded on the blessings of God and not in God Himself. That is why the starting point of discipleship is the honest introspection I’ve been teaching you about. It is important to understand the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the giver.
If you look carefully at the verses I’ve quoted above, you’ll discover God’s anti-anxiety ‘medication’ is not in hoping things work out all right for us. The bible doesn’t teach us to “trust in God’s ability to make all things work together for good”. If our faith is focused on the desired outcome of our expectations, then God is demoted from sovereign King to servant. He becomes a means to a desired end and, as such, is replaceable if He fails to meet our expectations.
This is why you will see a lot of professing believers abandon their faith during times of trials and tragedies. The truth is, people who bail on God during difficult times never trusted in God in the first place. Their trust was in what God could do for them.
Jeremiah tells us the man (or woman) who trusts in the Lord is “blessed”. This word “blessed” is most often defined as “benefits”. In other words, the person who trusts in the Lord receives the benefits of being in relationship with Him. Those benefits aren’t simply that God answers all of our prayers to our satisfaction. Those benefits are that we don’t ever have to socially distance ourselves from Him.
And that is the point of this post. As we are all being told to distance ourselves from our fellow humans to reduce the risk of transmitting and/or contracting this mysterious virus, the one individual who is completely immune to Covid-19 is the one we should all be drawing closer to on a regular basis.
The truth of the matter is, if we’ve been spending the last few months (if not years) building a healthy relationship with our Abba Father (Romans 8:15), then your body, soul, and spirit should be completely filled with faith in your Daddy’s character, commitment to keeping His word, and, yes, his capabilities to bless His people, even in the midst of a national crisis. But, if you haven’t been making time for Daddy, chances are better than average that your anxiety levels are rising with every passing day in this “new” reality.
So, my word of encouragement to you today, disciples, is twofold. One, examine yourselves. Only you know how much time you’ve actually been spending in the presence of God. Your reaction to this crisis is your real-time litmus test on how much you’ve deposited in your faith-bank.
And two, while we’re all socially distancing ourselves from one another, now would be an amazing time to turn off the distractions and honestly make some time to press into a deeper relationship with your incredible Creator. After all, it would appear He has provided us with a surplus of an extremely valuable commodity most of us claim we never have enough of: time.
I strongly suggest we all take full advantage of this “blessing” that He is providing for us in the midst of this crisis. I know from personal experience that you will be amazed at how awesome God is at completely removing fear and anxiety from His children…