These days of uncertainty bring with them a range of emotions that can fluctuate in similar fashion to the sun’s beams that come and go on a partially cloudy day. Some days feel like everyday life and others feel surreal and anything but normal. One minute we feel resigned with the way it is and the next, there is a real sadness over what has been lost. We can go from content to frustrated in the blink of an eye, depending on where our thoughts take us and how we are viewing our reality at the moment.
In all these shifting emotions, we need to constantly pray that God would graciously pull us up from the muck of our own perceived reality and into the beauty of the actual reality that we live in. My perceived reality says I am stuck at home. My actual reality says I have been given more time to engage with the people in my life that I have been called to love the most: my family (Titus 2:4). My perceived reality says my personal plans (and even those of my kids, which includes two seniors) have crumbled and it’s okay to feel frustrated. My actual reality says that those were never the plans God ordained before the foundation of the world. So, I can choose to trust in the character of God and praise Him for who He is even when I don’t always understand what He is doing (Isaiah 46:10). My perceived reality says I don’t like the uncertainty of what the coming months may or may not look like and the emptiness of my daily planner. My actual reality says that I have never had “control” of my life or the lives of my family, though my planner may have been well mapped out and it appeared I had my “ducks in a row”. Instead, I have been called to cling, in full dependence, to the One who holds every minute of every day in His sovereign, good hands (Eph. 1:11-12). This grows my own heart in the sweetness of dependent prayer…learning to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17).
Our perceived reality can often be skewed, like looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. It often has us and our plans as the star of the show and the center of the universe. Actual reality says something entirely different and it frees us from ourselves in a mighty way. It teaches us that it’s not about us at all.
We were created for God’s glory! Nothing more and nothing less.
“…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:7a
That doesn’t mean it always makes sense though, and there can be times His ways cause us to wonder or doubt His wisdom and His promises. The “great cloud of witnesses” that Hebrews 11 talks about are a source of help and encouragement in times like these. We are able to look back and see God’s faithful plan in the midst of the realities of their lives:
Abraham: promised land and descendants more numerous than the stars, yet spent most of his life a childless wanderer.
Joseph: blessed greatly by his father, hated deeply by his brothers. Sold as a slave, falsely imprisoned, and long-imprisoned because the good he had done to the cupbearer was forgotten.
Moses: went from the world’s wealthiest kid to an outcast hiding and tending sheep in the wilderness for 40 years. Then he spent another 40 years dealing with a whining, complaining nation that did not grow up and move out of the house, if you know what I mean!
And I could keep writing….Daniel, Job, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, Peter, Paul, John the Baptist, and countless others.
Their perceived realities were hard. They are the stuff of 2 Corinthians 4:8: “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”.
But their actual realities, just like yours and mine, serve a great, magnificent purpose:
“…to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:6b-7
John MacArthur’s commentary on this verse says: “By using frail and expendable people, God makes it clear that salvation is the result of his power and not any power his messengers could generate. The great power of God overcomes and transcends the clay pot. The messenger’s weakness is not fatal to what he does; it is essential.”
Wow! “The messenger’s weakness is not fatal to what he does; it is essential.” That pierces through our perceived reality and drives home our actual reality. The goal of our lives is to display the glory of God in whatever way HE chooses, so that HIS saving power is magnified and amplified in all those hard things we would like to see removed from our lives, including this season of uncertainty, isolation and social distancing.
He will always do what brings about the most good for His kids and brings Him the most glory. Remember, “He who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things”(Romans 8:32). THAT is actual reality. And in light of that reality, “we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
What is seen is often our perceived reality but what is unseen is our actual reality. God is working “to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). What hope there is knowing that He will give us all that we need to make it through Covid-19 and every day thereafter because when it comes right down to it, all that we need is found in all that He is! May we fix our eyes on Him, our true Reality!
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36