4. This is about Listening to short term stories vs. the story of God
I received a senior healthcare official’s comments here in South Africa who advised that in terms of the impact of COVID-19 we should be “very pessimistic in the short-run. But be unwaveringly optimistic for the long-term.”
In one sense, I believe that is a perspective that lives, which are immersed in the story of scripture, could take in the midst of difficulty. Jesus himself promised us “In the world you will have tribulation — but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We should recognise that we are yoked together with our neighbours in the midst of this. I don’t believe we as God’s people are promised to be left untouched by crisis like this, but we do have a vision and hope, one centered on our resurrected King Jesus Christ which roots us in the trust that death and sickness will be defeated and will not have the final word.
While many of us as Christians can affirm this, in situations like this it doesn’t feel true in our bones, as it where.
In this way, this crisis is is apocalyptic as the biblical understanding of that word, which is literally, ’revealing things for what they truly are’. While I don’t subscribe to the idea that God has orchestrated this crisis, I believe, as Romans says “..we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” and that one of the unexpected gifts of this crisis is the ability to self reflect and gain self-knowledge.
Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God. - John Calvin
This year, Rachel and I felt freshly challenged to engage the practise of Sabbath. Although we have had wavering success in implementing it in an already full start to the year, one reason we ‘unplug’ and reflect, is to dwell in God’s reality. We are invited, not to navel gaze but to deep examination of the reality of our inner life with God. When the the muchness and manyness of our exterior lives subsides or becomes overwhelming we are faced with where we are truly at. As we allow God’s Spirit to illuminate the reality of our inner lives we also invite Him to root us more deeply rooted in the truth of the Scriptures and the reality of God’s overarching story which is really good news. It is a story that calls these dead bones together to be an army of other-worldly witnesses in a world of worry and fear.