The other day a good friend of mine sent me an article I’ve been thinking a lot about this week. It is written by Bishop Todd Hunter of the Anglical Church. He is the bishop of a non-geographic diocese called Churches for the Sake of Others. The article was about the many issues facing churches and leaders in 2020 including the challenges of racial justice, divisive politics, distrust of media, and the pandemic. Here’s a link to the full article, but warning: it’s not short!
In the article, Bishop Hunter writes,
It seems to me, based on the most careful reading I can do from the most unbiased sources I can find, that we are only in the first minutes of what is likely to be a long, tiresome game. This era of trouble feels like it is going to be similar to an epic tennis match that goes on for hours, the athletes completely wrung out, having given their all. When COVID-19 first entered our minds, we hoped, “Two weeks to flatten the curve and then all will be well.” We hoped for the summer slump. It didn’t arrive. Cases are at their highest as I type this paragraph.
I am trying to come to grips with the reality that our present disruption, in one form or another, is likely to last well into next year. Some coming problems are not yet discerned. Various thinkers have pointed out other challenges that have not yet made the popular news cycle…
Here I ask you to bring clearly before your heart and mind the most authentic you, plus all the good you wish to do in the world. You can do it. You can persevere through this trial and the severe testing of us and all aspects of human life. It is normal to have thoughts flit through our minds like: “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “I wish I lived in a different time.”
We don’t linger on these thoughts. We take them captive to Christ to obey him (1 Corinthians 10:5), instead of living under the tyranny of our fleeting thoughts and emotions. This is just another, albeit psychological, way of doing life by putting Jesus in the middle of the frame and working out from there.
Clearly, we don’t deserve something more or better. We can’t wish away our present life. We simply take our place in the world as it unfolds under the loving, wise superintending of God. It is by God’s design that we are alive at this moment. How and where do we find the goodness of God in July 2020? How do we participate with him there, joining him in the renewal of all things?
Never denying hard realities or cowing before them, we seek first God and his kingdom. We drop out of the culture of condemnation. We pursue spiritual practices facilitating spiritual transformation that yield us coming to love God, neighbor and enemy. We seek truth in order to be agents of healing via truth. We run, enabled by grace and empowered by the Spirit, to get the prize of becoming humanity as God intended: the cooperative friends of Jesus, living lives of constant creative goodness, for the sake of others, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
There’s an idea there I find incredibly compelling. I often find myself wishing things would just go back to normal and for this all to be behind us. In that wishing there is a temptation to miss what God would do through us now. There is good work that God is calling us to do today that we may miss in wishing that life was different. I feel challenged to remember that in the midst of this pandemic, God’s plan for my life and your life isn’t stalled and sidelined. God has work for you to do today.
God is faithful.