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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers

This Unusual Time

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

This extraordinary season of CoVid19 presents a time of testing and learning that challenge us to growth and transformation. James (1:2-4 MSG) wrote: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open … Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed.” He's calling us to be fully alive, awake and aware and to keep our heart diligently seeking him so that we grow in the trial. Some of these challenges are common to us all and beg to be overcome:

1. Hopelessness. When adversity fell on Job (1:20) he worshiped and said: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He “accepted adversity” (2:10). What does that mean? We can accept the adversity of changes that we have no control over by choosing hope, continuing in it, knowing if we find this difficult or grievous, he bears that with us.

2. Childishness and complaint. We may feel: “I don’t want to do this! I have a right to complain about it. It’s not familiar and normal.” But when else will we have an opportunity exactly like this to glorify him by trusting him completely? We get to choose our attitude!

3. Inflexibility. A characteristic of real adulthood is resilience, the ability to endure with grace, “roll with the punches” and incorporate new things. It’s not our right to demand things for our comfort. If we embrace this pause, accepting it, God is released to work in new ways because we have surrendered the outcomes to him.

4. Isolation. This is a time of physical retreat but we do not have to isolate or shrink back. We can actually move forward by moving out to others, reaching to them other than face-to-face. We can still stir the gifts within us, vibrantly alive with his life, and bless others.

5. Fear. God doesn’t shame us because we feel fear. He invites us to let fear propel us to the Cross, naming our fear, and exchanging it for his love, power and sound mind. As we welcome his love, fear is displaced and we are able to surrender our attempts at control.

We will “pass through the sea of distress” (Zech. 10:11-12) and be strengthened in the Lord. As we keep coming to the cross, we realize he has promised to give us “the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places” (Isa. 45:3). In the seeming darkness something new is being formed.

When God uses these challenges to prune us it is to produce greater fruitfulness that we might thrive together in the kingdom. He will again bring us from restriction to a “broad place without constraint” (Job. 36:16). Though we are hemmed in he will lead us to a “wide open place” (Ps. 4:1; Ps. 18:19).

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