Hi everyone. Rob here.
In New Zealand at the moment we’re living with an uneasy freedom. Our success in eliminating community transmission of Covid-19 means that we’re enjoying freedoms that many parts of the world can only dream of. But we’re wary. We know that it’s a fragile freedom. Our nerves have gone up with every quarantine escapee knowing that it only takes one person with the virus to set off a chain reaction. We’ve watched Australia go from near elimination to full-blown crisis in a matter of weeks and we know that could be us. We’re also aware that the economy is even more fragile than our health and our previous way of life may have to change drastically. It’s with this context that I recommend the following as a way of learning to deal with this new world: keep reading and getting to know your Bible.
That sounds like an awful Christian cliche doesn’t it? And it can be if we’re talking about reading your Bible because it’s what good Christians do. I’m talking about reading our Bible because it’s full of stories about God’s creative faithfulness and imperfect human courage in times of change, uncertainty and duress. We need to take those stories to heart so that we can take heart at a time like this.
What we see in Scripture is that God doesn’t give us quick and easy solutions. In fact, God’s solutions barely make any sense to us at all. Abraham has to leave everyone and everything he has ever known in order to go to a new land. Enslaved Israelites have to trust a former Prince of Egypt who was driven into exile to stand up to Pharaoh and win their freedom. Gideon’s army has to shrink to almost nothing. Ruth has to seduce her kinsman-redeemer. On it goes. In the New Testament God entrusts his message to uneducated fishermen and hated tax collectors. He sends a man who used to gloat over Christian’s dying to be his ambassador to the Gentile world. In Jesus himself we see that victory is won by a cross, a humiliating means of execution.
The only thing that the stories have in common is that God’s people have to let go of their agenda and their way of doing things. And that is the hardest thing of all. It involves a bunch of concepts that we don’t like. Perseverance, suffering, patience, spiritual warfare, surrender and loving when we don’t feel like it. That was our journey for starting a family, finding our calling, saving our marriage and for trusting God no matter what. It involves faith; choosing to believe that God is at work when all the evidence suggests otherwise.
In the middle of a global pandemic this is the kind of faith that God’s people are being called to have. Tough and resilient; patient and loving; trusting and vigilant. As you read scripture you see that these are God’s qualities as well. He’s so committed to us becoming like him that he puts us on journeys that only he can understand. When we learn to die to ourselves we come to see through his eyes and understand that his way is always best.
Wherever you are and whatever your situation is right now may the grace and patient love of God sustain you, strengthen you and transform you.