The Pain of Today Strengthens You For Tomorrow

As we prepare to enter our sixth week under “stay at home” orders in Chicago, the emotional and physical toll is beginning to set in for many. With it comes an increase in the temptation to point fingers and join the misinformation and political campaigning that divides rather than unites under the circumstances. It’s important we acknowledge any feelings of deep confusion, anger, fear, and sadness. These are normal responses in times of loss and trauma. Christians are not immune to such feelings, nor should we be. They humbly remind us of our shared humanity in brokenness, suffering, and fragility. These days are tragic, but also a gift. Because when we’re confronted with the stark reality of who we are before God, we begin to find true freedom and our purpose in life.

As Christ followers, we have an obligation – a loyalty to a greater King and greater Kingdom. As Jesus said to Pilate when he stood on trial, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), we too declare our sole allegiance to Christ’s Kingdom. We do this in great tension, standing in the space where light meets darkness, filled with the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus hung between death and life on the cross. Now, we as his children, are living in the messy-middle, caught between the “already and not yet” glory of God’s eternal Kingdom. We are called to live between death and resurrection; between the old life and the new life. We demonstrate God’s love for our neighbors by extending grace, compassion, and forgiveness. We also willfully lay our lives down for our friends if called upon, just as countless nurses and doctors are doing for the marginalized, sick, contagious, and suffering today.

Don’t lose sight of the mission. Don’t lose sight of our hope. Don’t forget the world will one day pass away, but that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and “we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives” (Philippians 3:20). Let’s also remember we are called to suffering, and in our suffering is where we find true victory. “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10). If we attempt to avoid pain by not allowing it to take it’s course, we’ll miss out on how God intends to change us.

We are to join God in his restorative mission that will “make everything new” (Revelation 21:5) by sharing his message of repentance and faith in Jesus regardless of the obstacles before us. We do this all the while knowing – in confidence, joy, and faith – this is not our home. We do this because, “we are looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight” (2 Peter 3:13-14).

So turn off the television for a little while. Shut off social media. Take a walk outside. Sit still in silence and prayer. Talk to your spouse and kids. See a new movie. Do something fun or adventurous while stuck at home. Tell your boss you’re taking Monday off for a mental health day. Tell the kids they don’t need to do e-learning for a day. And when you do, enjoy every moment the Lord has given you. Be reminded of his love and grace for you. Enjoy his presence, and worship him for all that he is – our glorious God – who has prepared you and equipped you for every good work in his Kingdom.