It's been seven weeks since our nation began to respond in earnest to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over that time, much of what we would call 'normal' has been redefined. While this sort of upheaval can bring with it a certain amount of stress, it can also bring about some amazing opportunities.
- Consider the Passover that we took seventeen days ago - Was our thought process as we prepared for that very meaningful ceremony a bit more focused?
- Consider the societal turmoil and what we see taking place on the world stage - Have we become more aware of what God reveals in Scripture about the end times?
- Consider the 'extra' time that we are no longer spending in our cars - Are we redeeming this time in pursuit of Bible study or our prayer life?
- Consider the increase in family time (if we have family at home) - Have we maximized the opportunity to build our relationships and/or exemplify to our family our own faith in God through all of this?
- Consider the increase in solitude (if we live alone) - Have we made efforts to reach out to others or taken the time to meditate without distraction?
Every situation that we face in life brings with it the opportunity for God to see how we will respond. Our current global situation is not intrinsically good or bad (it's definitely not fun or desirable), but how we choose to respond can greatly affect our future.
Let's consider the examples of two individuals in Scripture with whom God was working and how they responded to their unique societal pressures. In 1 Kings 16:29 we learn that Ahab was crowned king over the northern ten tribes of Israel. In 1 Kings 17 Elijah goes to Ahab and declares that there will be a drought in the land and no rain unless he says so. After this, God tells Elijah to flee and he does so, staying in hiding for three years while being cared for by a widow and miraculously sustained by God with endless oil and flour.
During the three years of drought, Ahab's wife, Jezebel goes on a rampage and begins massacring the prophets of God as she searches for Elijah. One of Elijah's prophet contemporaries, Obadiah, actually worked for Ahab, running his household. While Jezebel was trying to find and kill the prophets, Obediah gathered and hid 100 of them in two caves. In the midst of the drought and under the nose of his boss, Obadiah also found a way to get bread and water to the prophets he had hidden to sustain them.
As the account continues, we see Elijah and Obadiah meet and have a conversation where we learn that Obadiah fears being killed by Ahab just for being associated with Elijah and then later on we see Elijah react out of fear of being killed by Jezebel as he heads for the hills.
Both of these men were devout followers of God. Both feared the Lord and served Him. Both prophets also feared the physical ruler of their nation. Both allowed their societal pressures to influence how they acted - for better and for worse. In the face of their fears though, both individuals found ways to exhibit their faith in God and to act instead of remaining paralyzed.
None of us is going to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, every time. We are human and we all fail (Romans 3:23). However, when we look at the situations placed before us, we each have a choice about how we proceed. In these abnormal times, are we seizing the opportunities to act in faith and show our Father that we fear Him and have the utmost confidence in Him above all else (Matthew 10:27-31)?