Finding Our Footing

Guest post by Paul Ulrich

You may not have noticed, but there was a changing of the guard with the equinox this week. Winter went off duty, and Spring began her shift. This is my favorite time of the year. Bird songs, flowers, budding trees, and animals form an amazingly rich, infinitely complex backdrop to our lives.

There is nothing normal, however, about Spring 2020. I recognize in myself a tendency to be alarmist and sensational. With respect to COVID-19, however, I am more convinced not only of risk, but of the sorrow that will soon invade our comfortable, suburban lives.

Here is a window into my mind through a few journal excerpts in recent days:

March 14 - "There is a difference between trusting in the Lord and ambivalence or neutrality. Trusting is an active reaction to circumstances, events, emotions, or thoughts. I can (1) trust in God, (2) trust in myself, or (3) assume, 'what will be, will be.' I have lived often between the latter two of these approaches."

March 17 - "Coronavirus. The United States is following quickly on the heels of other countries who wrestle with this remarkable problem..."

March 18 - "Wednesday. Rachel heads to work. I anticipate her hours will be heavily reduced or she will be laid off."

March 21 - "My colleagues do not know you, Christ. They have nothing. They are bound for… eternal separation from you. Some of them will die in the coming months."

Alarmist? Perhaps. But, despite the beauty of Spring around me this week, it’s clear that nature is indifferent to human suffering. Plants grow and bloom irrespective of the fear, death, and uncertainty that assail us humans. Were we to die, these seasonal cycles would persist with no further sorrow or consideration that we die. I confess that I frequently am passively indifferent or ambivalent to human suffering as well (as long as it doesn’t affect me).

In fact, I am disappointed that this ambivalence for others characterized essentially all of my 20’s. Hopefully, something in you recoils against my words, strives for something more lasting, and cares more for those around you than the darkness that awaits them after death. During my time with the Lord last week, two ideas surfaced in my mind that are linked to this:

1. The Lord is good, and his love is steadfast (Psalm 118:1).

God’s love is unchanging, resolute, committed, unwavering, and firm. There is comfort and predictability in a firm foundation. One of my current projects is replacing a deck near our pool. The chief feature of good deck design is creation of stable footings for support. In our lives, God’s steadfast love is that secure, well laid footing. The depth of that resolute love surprises us in his own death, resurrection, redemption, and patient sanctification of us.

2. There are people in each of our lives that desperately need salvation.

There is nothing good awaiting them after death, only painful separation from God. What shall we do? How shall we pray? Hearts must change! We are incapable of creating soft hearts. Here is the prayer that God elicited in me:

First, I admit I can do nothing to redeem the lost around me.

Second, I reaffirm hope and belief in you, God, as powerful, good, capable, and active.

Third, I acknowledge you will work in me, and I offer myself to that end.

Fourth, I ask to discern opportunities and readiness in others for the Gospel.

Fifth, I pray for your orchestration of the circumstances where I meet with people where I can share the Gospel (consider Philip and the eunuch of Acts 8).

While the natural world is indifferent to your pain, the good news is that God is not and that Jesus came to suffer on our behalf. Let go of fear and hold on to him during this crisis. Fear drives us inward. Faith drives us upward. Practicing thankfulness reminds us of God’s faithfulness. May God’s faithfulness spur you to prayerfully share his message of love to the lives of the wandering lost around you.

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