“So be careful how you make sense of your life. What looks like a disaster may in fact be grace. What looks like the end may be the beginning. What looks hopeless may be God’s instrument to give you real and lasting hope. Your Father is committed to taking what seems so bad and turning it into something that is very, very good.”Paul David Tripp
I don’t know about you, but these words stopped me in my tracks. Found in the last paragraph of the March 31st entry of Tripp’s New Morning Mercies daily devotional, I was struck with how fitting these words are for such a time as this. With a global pandemic occurring, how fitting it is to be reminded of my need for hope.
I normally avoid most popular news sources, but it feels like certain updates are unavoidable during this time of crisis. Each time my Apple News provides a new alert or notification on my watch or phone, I feel my anxiety levels rise. My body tenses and my heartbeat quickens. When will this end? Some sources are saying America is only in the beginning. Will 2020 really be consumed by COVID-19? What will this do to our economy? What will this do to my job security at an organization dependent on donations? Will my husband start the next school year remotely, not even being able to meet his students in person? Can I stay sane using Zoom for all of my “face-to-face” interaction? (My heart protests, “NO!”) These questions continue to bombard my thought life and quickly snowball, creating a sense of hopelessness and despair. The statistics are not good. Large quantities of death seem inevitable. Reality is bleak. How can there be hope?
Yet the Holy Spirit reminds me that all of these thoughts are not grounded. The things of this world are shifting, like sinking sand on the shoreline. Biblical truth has been (and has to be) my anchor. I need Truth to ground me during the days where I feel like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster –one minute I’m fine, praising the Lord for his provision and mercies in my life, and the next moment I’m spiraling in despair about how crazy and sad our world is right now. And if I’m truly honest, this is reflective of my heart every day. Hebrews 6:19 tells us that we have hope “as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” I don’t know about you, but my soul needs to be anchored. I need to be grounded in Christ, our solid rock (as we sang this past Sunday). I need to be reminded that I am anchored. Christ is the solid rock on which I stand.
But … how do I hold these truths in my hand in light of all of the bleakness in the world around me (literally around me as I quarantine in my own home)? I think this is where Tripp’s words offer tremendous comfort, “What looks hopeless may be God’s instrument to give you real and lasting hope.” Real and lasting hope sounds amazing, especially during a time where my hope can diminish so quickly. I’m not saying COVID-19 is all about me or the development of my own hope. However, I think Tripp’s words invite us to view our current situation as an opportunity to recognize how the Lord is working in our lives. My faith has been tested through trials in the past and one particularly difficult season actually brought about some of the sweetest time I’ve spent with the Lord. Maybe this season will spur me on to develop greater hope –an eternal hope that gives me hope for the present. I can hope for the end of this virus, but I think even more than that God is teaching me to hope for his eternal Kingdom. My soul can long and hope for the wedding feast of the Lamb.
This is not to dismiss all of the suffering and loss that is occurring as a result of COVID-19. I’ve experienced the cover-all comment of Romans 8:28 at the wrong moment when someone offers these words in an attempt to comfort, but it falls short when they say, “God works all things for our good.” Don’t get me wrong, these words are a Biblical promise to cling to, but sometimes they can feel shallow because of the intensity of suffering or hardship I may be facing. If that’s where you are at, reader, please know that I am not intending to say the same to you. I can’t fix the loss or suffering you’re experiencing. I don’t know what you’re facing. All I’m saying is, I do know that the truth of these words offer a different perspective. If I take a step or two back from my current quarantine situation, I can see that somehow in God’s goodness and sovereignty, He will work this situation for my good. It may not look like what I think is “good” right now, but that’s where I have to trust that God is sovereign and works all things for our good. He’s inviting us to trust Him in that and to hope in Him.
May He produce in us a real and lasting hope.