By Bethany Riehl
Warning, I’m about to state the obvious: we are living in some crazy times, no? Truly, the global pandemic isn’t even the craziest of all. It’s difficult to know what to think about anything these days with the influx of differing opinions posted all over the place. Just when I make my mind up about something, a new idea is presented to challenge my previous conclusion. I find myself feeling like a wave tossed about in troubled waters.
Which is no place for a believer. (See James 1)
Recently, after a discouraging day, my heart lamented, “God, if only I could memorize the entirety of Scripture to have it forefront in my mind at all times! That in each and every circumstance, I could pluck out which Scripture fits the situation and use it accordingly!”
I was struck with truth so strongly in that moment, I went still at the sheer magnitude of it: Jesus accomplished this thing I so desperately wanted. He was the Word made flesh, and He did know all of Scripture perfectly – even the New Testament that was yet to be written – and lived His life in perfect submission to God, walking in the truth of His Word perfectly. Not only did He accomplish this on my behalf, He promised me a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide me in the same way.
“And the Word of God became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to You.” – John 16:13,14
We’re living in turbulent times, my friends. No doubt. We are not, however, here by mistake. You, me, your neighbor, your children, your pastor – all – were designed to live in this place and in this time. Not necessarily to be the heroes; rather, we the Church, the Bride of Christ have the profound privilege to walk His truth out for all the world to see. We are not of this world; our kingdom is in heaven. While here, we are Christ’s ambassadors, His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do the good works He has prepared beforehand for us to do. We are to be salt and light in this depraved and dark world. What’s more, we’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this.
In these days of chaos and confusion, we need to stand firm in the Truth. To do that, we must know it. I’ll be the first to confess that I have spent more time scrolling news articles and Instagram stories than I should. What a waste of time that is! I haven’t drunk deeply of the Living Water as often as I should. Instead, I need to immerse myself in the Word of God.
Now is our time, Christian, to live out the Word of God with Christ Jesus as our example and the Holy Spirit as our guide. It’s difficult to reign in the flesh, but we must. The world is watching and they desperately need the hope that is found in Jesus alone.
Will we show them people who are afraid of a virus? Will we show them people who are afraid of losing our freedom? Will we show them people who don’t trust in the Lord in the face of these very real concerns? Will we show them a family that bickers and fights with one another? Or will we show them people of faith that love one another? Faith in a wonderful God that is sovereign over all things, and love for the Bride that He calls His own.
I’m not saying we should lick door handles or turn over our freedom in the name of “faith.” I’m not saying we should go to church if we’re sick or not be present in political conversations or not stand firm in the Truth of His Word, even if that offends a misguided brother or sister. I am saying, “Church, where is our faith? Where is our brotherly love?”
Paul had just the right words for us in these times. “Have the attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) A few verses down he also exhorts us to, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” (vs. 14)
I have found in my Bible reading this year the most uncomfortable, and yet liberating, realization. For many years (especially in youth group as a young woman), I was told to put myself into the Bible as the hero. I was David, and my problems were Goliath (God would help me slay that hard test!), I was Esther (born for such a time as this, I was made to do great things!), I was Joshua (God has good plans for me and I am a warrior!). At the beginning of this year, I asked the Lord to transform my Bible reading, so that I would understand who He is.
He is faithful and I have seen who He is, and who I am not. I am not the hero; I’m the fool in the Proverbs, I’m the Pharisee, I’m the rebellious Israelite. The great heroes of the Bible aren’t us; they are pictures of Jesus. He is David, slaying our sin. He is Joshua, leading His people to the promised land, He is wisdom, He is love, He is perfect. He is the hero of the Bible and He came to save us. We have nothing to offer, but still He died for us. While we were His enemies, He died. For us. We have everything to gain by following Him. And everything to lose if we don’t.
Let us not be afraid, dear friends, of whatever may come. We can rest knowing that the all-powerful God has tucked us under His wing. We need not fear a virus, famine, economic collapse, loss of freedom, earthquakes or anything else 2020 (or even beyond) might throw our way. Even death. Even persecution.
We aren’t called to be the heroes in this time. We are to be the ones that bring glory to the Greatest Hero of all time. We need only to obey. Lean into Him, point to Him, think of Him, sing to Him, praise Him! Love His people. Rest in His sovereignty. And when we fail at these things, we can confess it and find forgiveness and start over again. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Walk by faith. Be encouraged. He does all things well! (Mark 7:37)
Bethany Riehl loves to write stories and articles that explore the complexities of relationships and encourage readers in their relationship with Jesus. She joyfully serves in the children’s ministry at her church, teaches at a homeschool co-op, and drinks more coffee than necessary to keep up with her only-slightly-crazy life. She is the author of four Christian fiction novels and now lives in Meridian with her spunky kids and very handsome hubby.