As both a pastor and a marketplace leader, I’ve given out a lot of advice over the years. It’s easy to objectively see things in other people’s lives and to offer much-needed encouragement and perspective. But what happens when your own advice is staring right back at you?
That’s where I find myself today as I watch the cavalcade of Coronavirus news flood into my orbit. No gatherings of 250, then 50, now 10. Churches close, then restaurants, now malls and public spaces. Emergency meetings. Questions from staff. New guidance from the CDC. Another record drop in the stock market. Unknowns. Anxiety. Nothing makes sense.
The world’s foundations are shaking. When I look outside my window everything appears to be the same, but an invisible invader has declared war on our way of life.
If I was watching someone else walk through this, my perspective would be clear. But since I feel every shocking bit of it just like everyone else, I’m wrestling with what I know is true.
You see, there’s something I’ve quoted for years. I’ve shared it with friends that have lost a jobs, struggled in ministry, found themselves in a financial pinch, experienced the breakup of a key relationship, fallen into a difficult season with a business. I’ve posted it countless times on my social media feeds. It’s eternally true, but today I hate it.
Here it is:
“God allows us to experience the futility of everything we place our trust in outside of Him. This is grace. This is one way He loves us.”
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that God unleashed the Coronavirus on humanity. But I do believe we live in a fallen world where viruses invade and multiply in living cells. I do believe global pandemics can destroy economies, lifestyles, and our complete social order. I do believe sin has made a complete mess of things.
And it’s in these moments I can clearly see all the places I’ve rooted my identity, my faith, my joy, and my hope outside of God Himself.
In my paycheck.
In the strength of our business model.
In my American way of life.
In my ability to control my own future.
In my piousness.
In my plans.
In my freedom to come and go and do as I please.
In my ability to give my kids the things they want.
In my ability to travel around the country and the globe.
In my retirement account balance.
In my confidence in the vitality of the global economy.
It’s in moments like these that my shaky foundation gets exposed, and God, in His eternal perspective and love, allows me to feel the futility – the absolute inability – of any of these things to carry the weight I place upon them. When the foundations shake, I can clearly see where I have rooted myself in sand. But the wise man builds his house upon the Rock. Jesus is the only eternal foundation.
If you’re like me today, you’re feeling the natural fear and anxiety of living in a sin-broken world, a world that is shaking. Perhaps for the first time in a while, you can feel your misplaced hopes. Our idols “are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 115:5-8)
Here’s the advice I would give to others, and so today it’s the advice I’m shouting to myself today as well:
Repent and trust in Jesus.
May these gut-check moments drive us back to the Savior, to the only Foundation that never shakes even when the world seems to be crashing down around us. His name is Jesus.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”