The current trial before this nation and this world is difficult and deeply painful for many. To others it will remain a temporary “new normal” not without its inconveniences, fears and unknowns. Whatever the level of intensity and personal impact, this season of adversity will likely alter the way we perceive faith and one another. What we collectively and individually experience now, will be recounted and discussed for generations around dinner tables, campfires and pulpits. We have officially entered into a historic event whether we realize it or not.
Reality is a great teacher. The following themes, from a pastor’s perspective, are hopefully themes that we can glean from this current cultural moment that shape and prepare us for the next inevitable challenge. How much will this trial change us individually, nationally and globally? What will stick?
In this election year, this nation was recklessly speeding toward a political, head-on collision that would no doubt thrust us into a new pinnacle of polarization. Adversity has a way of unifying Americans. Maybe our divisiveness and rock throwing will at least subside just long enough for us to realize that we are all on the same side. Maybe, being on the same side for a season will make some sort of difference?
Quality leadership in a crisis is crucial. Many local, state and national public servants are now governing purely for the people without posturing themselves politically. It has to feel good for a governor or a mayor to seek counsel and make decisions that, though unpopular, will help the people they swore an oath to serve and protect. There is now a parenthetical purity in governing that will hopefully minimize political game playing later. Maybe reality can teach us a lasting lesson?
If in this cultural moment, we need to learn something concerning personal entitlements, we now collectively own an opportunity to recalibrate our opinions of what we each think we deserve. We might just get what we need far more now than what we want. This is a silver lining in a very dark cloud. Our younger generation is getting but a hint of what it means to face uncertainty and fear. Our younger generation can benefit from enduring the unexpected and the unwanted.
Who hasn’t let their mind race forward 6, 9 or 24 months? Who hasn’t thought about their retirement account or their payroll or their employees with concern? Our “security” is threatened. In what or whom are we trusting? Some trust in chariots, some in horses…who is trusting in the name of the Lord our God?
Our frenetic lives have been slowed down a bit. Life is becoming more challenging but increasingly simpler as well. Maybe now is the time to take notice of those around us lying in need along the Samaritan road. Perhaps now they are more noticeable and more audible? Who in your God-given sphere of influence is highly vulnerable, overwhelmed and in need of someone to make a grocery run or fill a prescription? Who needs you to rise even higher in the midst of calamity?
A.W. Tozer said many profound things, one such quote goes something like this: “A scared world needs a fearless church.” The opposite of fear is often thought to be “faith”; perhaps this is only partly true. Consider the opposite of fear being “love” for “perfect love cast out fear” (1 John 4:18). This nation needs healing and love for we have hurt and disdained one another for far too long. A virus out flanked us when we were most distracted and self-absorbed. Will the church rise up and make sure people both see and hear the glorious, good news of Jesus the Christ and serve hurting and confused people a taste of what it means to live a life with far greater hope and security than this fallen world can offer? Withholding good news and good deeds in the midst of a bad calamity seems like an even greater tragedy. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, N.C.