God is at work in the heart of his people during this pandemic. Who other than God could allow the entire world to be in captivity through something microscopic? God has permitted this threat of death to hang over us, but the question we must ask ourselves is, what does God expect us to manifest through it? Though our physical body is in bondage, our Spirit is free to worship and draw near to the Lord.
If God does not take us out of a situation, what is He bringing forth in us? There is always a purpose in pain. When the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philippians, he was in a prison cell. He did not know if he was going to live or die. Similarly, we are locked in our homes with the fear of death looming over us, and we cannot change it. Despite his seemingly desperate situation, Paul expressed uncertainty and confidence all at the same time. Paul does not bother to describe the horrible circumstances in prison; he wants to talk about the fruit of the situation.
And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the Gospel without fear – Philippians 1:14
We need to be bold enough to look at our lives in a similar way right now. What is happening in me is more important than what is happening to me. What is God pruning in me this season? Personally, having no means of “escape” forces me to confront my character flaws that negatively impact the quality of my life and those closest to me.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...” – Galatians 5:22-23
In all my years, when I was practicing Islam, I never learned or even considered most of these attributes, least of all kindness or gentleness. I worked in the very fast-paced, competitive industry of federal contracting, so I was always fighting my way to the top. I worked hard and outdid my competitors to be successful. Good character was not part of the equation. Back then, if I prayed, fasted, and wore a headcover, I was good with “God.” Life was just a series of transactions, even love. I gave something in exchange for receiving what I wanted.
It was not until I encountered the Gospel that I learned about unconditional love. I began to understand the significance of gentleness, kindness, and forbearance in the face of adversity. Jesus was so loving, kind, and forgiving, no matter what was done to Him. He gave it all for us to be free. It is my love affair with Jesus that makes me want to be more like Him. Yet, it was only when the world completely shut down, did I realize how far I still had to go.
What do you feel God is speaking to you in this season? Can you focus on what fruit He wants for your life, rather than the frustration of the moment? What if this season is fast-forwarding us into wisdom God wants for our lives? Imagine the possibilities!
In this season, we are all equally ignorant. Nobody knows what lies ahead. God’s plans are a mystery, and faith does not negate uncertainty. In life, the only thing you can control is your emotional and spiritual focus. We do not need to know how it ends, only that God will be with us through it. It is a confidence that goes beyond knowledge.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18
Now those are words to live by!
If we can focus on the transformation occurring in us, the pain makes sense. Pain without purpose is unbearable. We need to listen for what God is trying to teach us in this season. It does not happen overnight, though. That is why Jesus uses so many parables of harvesting. Growing fruit takes time. You need good soil, that first seed, fertilizer, water, and time. The tree must grow before there is fruit. Honestly, it is only since quarantine that I appreciate the harvest analogy of the Gospel. I understood it conceptually, but now I am living it. I am covered in dirt, sometimes buried, but I have the hope in the Lord to make something beautiful out of it. Hope is a focus we must choose consciously.
….but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. –Romans 8:23-25
Paul is teaching us that the transformation and redemption is the promise we hold onto through the pain. If we already had it, we would not call it hope. Nonetheless, there is a groaning and suffering that comes along with it. I am so grateful for a God that prepares us for the hardship. He does not pretend it will be easy. He teaches us to embrace it. He also promises to carry us through it. When we do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit will pray for us. And when we mess up or stumble, God will make it work to our advantage if we love Him and continue to follow His purpose for our lives.
None of us know what will come of the world in the coming months or even years. Let us ignore what we cannot control and instead focus on the fruit God is trying to bring forth in our lives.
Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel. She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations.