Discouragement spreads as quickly as disease. Here are three spiritual truths to help you combat the spread and spiritually flourish amid this quarantine.
1. You are Seen Even When You Feel Hidden
Open your Bible to the book of Genesis and you will meet a man named Abraham. He is the main character of this Bible story in early Genesis. He is a nomad from the east. God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation if he left his homeland and wandered to the land that God selected. This promise is found in Genesis 12:1-3. The Old Testament takes us through this promise. Abraham leaves home and wanders through a strange land with his clan, waiting on the promise. We see that Abraham accepted the promise of a son, but like many of us, he didn’t wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and in His own way. So we watch as his faith in God is tested. God’s promise depends upon Abraham having a son, if Abraham never has a son, then how is God going to keep the promise? Ten years have passed since the original promise. Ten years of waiting, roaming, and wandering. We watch as Sarah, who is faithfully following Abraham becomes impatient. So she comes up with a great idea (or so she thinks) and rushes God’s plan. Sarah has a servant girl named Hagar and suggests to Abraham, “Go into my servant. It may be that I shall obtain children by her.” I remember reading this and thinking, “what in the world was going on in her mind? This is going to go well...NOT... This situation has disaster all over it.” Just like we can’t turn away from a train wreck, we keep reading and in Genesis 16:3, Abraham agrees to go into Hagar and she becomes pregnant. When that happened, Sarah became dishonored in Hagar’s eyes. Sarah notices and becomes angry and confronts Abraham. Abraham tells her, “Do as you please,” so Sarah did, whatever she wanted, and Hagar ran away. If we turn to Genesis 16:7-13 we see that she made her way to the desert, and the Angel of the Lord found her by a well “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” The Angel asked. She said “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” The Angel told Hagar to go back to Sarai’s tent. He told Hagar to submit to Sarah. He gave her a promise attached to the son in her womb, a promise that had a whiff of Abraham’s promise in it.
One of my mom’s favorite thing to do was watch my brother play sports. I remember once, sitting in the hospital bed with mom and she was so mad that she was going to miss my brothers basketball game. My dad came up with the idea to Face-time my mother during the game. The entire time my dad kept the viewfinder of the ipad on my brother, so my mom was able to watch. I think we can learn a lot about God by paying attention to who He keeps in the center of the view-finder in the text of scripture—In this moment, look how God tracks the movement of a pregnant slave girl in His viewfinder (Poe, 2013). Did you catch what Hagar called the Angel of the Lord? “The God who sees.” The well, Beer-lahai-roi: means the well of the living one who sees.
Can I suggest that, until that moment, nobody had seen Hagar? She is sitting there by the spring of water in the wilderness scared and homeless. An Egyptian girl caught or bought by a Mesopotamian family doing whatever she had to do to get by. She was just obeying orders to stay alive and then... when she did exactly as she was told, her master hates her for it. She was alone. She had no family. She could not make a call. She was completely by herself. She was pretty much disposable. They handled her like an appliance. Once she was used up, she became useless, just in the way trash is discarded.
She was invisible. Unseen. Unsure of the future. Nobody asked what she wanted, nobody cared how she felt, nobody knows who she really is.
Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever wondered if there is there anybody who sees?
Or maybe during this season of quarantine you have lost your job and you are facing uncertainty in your future…
I have felt this… Hidden, unnoticed, and unsure…
But what I have learned is, there is One who sees. There is One who notice and cares for us. Here is just one small example: when the Angel talked to Hagar, He began like this: “Hagar, Sarai’s maid....”The Angel knew her name. He knew exactly who she was!
Are you surprised? That the One who scooped out the seas, heaped up the mountains, flung out the stars, painted the deserts, and colored the forest would notice Hagar? That the One who created a plot to save humanity, would help save a single girl caught in a domestic mess? That the One bothered by all our prayers would bother with a pregnant runaway?
Are you really surprised? I was. But what I have learned is although we have seasons where we feel hidden and forgotten, God’s word tells us a different story:
We are told in Matthew 10:30:“Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.” And that he “counts our tears,”
And in Psalms 56:8 He counts our steps “For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps” (Job 34:21).
Psalm 139-7-13 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
Even in our hidden seasons, remember that He sees, knows, and cares for us.
2. These Times are Purposed.
I am sure this time may feel wasteful. You may feel behind at work, or frustrated and stuck. You may even feel out of control. But we have a God that is always in control. He is not surprised by a virus or a quarantine. He can and will work through this and use it for His glory in ways we can never fathom. He works through the terrible, uncontrollable seasons. And in the meantime, He often protects us by situations like a quarantine.
I believe this writer said it best, “There are times when God tucks us away. He might hide us in a difficult job or an un-welcomed circumstance where we feel like no one gets us, where we feel misunderstood. He might hide us in a crowd where we feel lost—unseen—or behind the front door of our homes, changing diapers and burping babies. He does this all so that we might see another side of Him, this God who looks deeply and knowingly into us when no one else is looking or noticing, and come alive under that eye (Hagerty, 2017).”
We may feel like we’re waiting it out or merely enduring hardship, but, from God’s angle, these times are purposed. He can turn this season into something fruitful if we turn our attention toward Him and embrace this season. Allow this season to bring you near to Him, to His word, and His purpose. Allow this season to refine you into a vessel that can be used for His glory.
3. There is Freedom in Surrender
Instead of using your energy towards wishing for another season, surrendering to the moment you are in, although painful, allows you to receive all that God intends for that particular season much better than if you decide to fight against it. Look at this time as a blessing and an opportunity to prioritize and strengthen your relationship with God and His word and the people in your life He has blessed you with. Look at this time as an opportunity to grow spiritually and increase your prayer life. Carve out time to intake His word. Carve out time to pray for our nation and our families. This season does not have to be unproductive. God is able to cultivate strengths that stand the test of time such as:
- an accurate portrait of God
- an unshakable identity
- trust in God’s timing
- an eternal perspective
- an increasing prayer life
Such strengths are not given; they are grown. They are the fruit of active participation, not passive observation. These kind of seasons can be the most spiritually fruitful spaces of our lives if we respect their potential and cooperate with God in their development. These kinds of seasons are the surprising source of enduring spiritual strength. Savor the season! Respect its potential. Surrender to the possibilities (Chole, 2006).
I hope this post was helpful. Comment below and tell us how you are spiritually flourishing through this quarantine!
Chole, Alicia Britt. Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years...and yours (p. 5). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Hagerty, Sara. Unseen (p. 18). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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