“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
Romans 8:28 is a scripture that is heavily recited among new and seasoned Christians alike, but very few of us live as though we believe what that scripture says. Sure, when we are living in seasons of simplicity and prosperity it’s easy to believe that things are working together for our good. But what happens when we hit seasons of hardship and lack? And yes, when the path we are walking is unobstructed and smooth it’s simple to trust God. But what happens when the path we are walking on is bumpy and crowded with obstacles? Can we still trust God when we don’t understand His plan? Can we still have faith when all signs seem to suggest nothing will work out in our favor?
This period of quarantine has been the perfect microscope for magnifying my tendency to doubt when I don’t have all the details (please tell me I’m not the only one). COVID-19 and quarantine have tested whether I truly possess the faith I so loudly profess when life is good. I ended 2019 on a personal high note. I got engaged the day after Christmas, and as I rang in the New Year at church with my fiance and my son, I was closer to my dreams than ever before. I was planning a wedding and building a family. I was celebrating professional successes and praising God for His many blessings.
Then here comes Coronavirus completely shaking up everything I thought was so stable. Shaking up my comfort. Shaking up my control. Suddenly I was faced with the fact that my birthday would be spent in quarantine. Suddenly I was dealing with having to alter my wedding plans. Suddenly I was faced with the possibility that my own son might have contracted the virus. I was fearful. I was anxious. I was confused. I was frustrated. At times, I was angry and bitter. Ultimately, I was exposed. God used Covid-19 and quarantine to completely expose my faith for what it really was- phony and rooted in the physical, not the Father.
It’s funny how quickly we doubt God’s process when He stops giving us the details. There is no doubt that from the outside looking in, or perhaps from down here looking up (our vantage point) this is complete chaos. It’s a global pandemic! Who would’ve ever thought they’d be living through a global health and economic crisis like this? Certainly not me! However, in times like these we must remember that we serve an all-knowing and all-powerful God who has all things in control.
Of course that’s not always easy to do when things don’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that so many people are losing their lives due to a massive health crisis that seemed to appear out of nowhere. It doesn’t make sense that we’ve been confined to our homes for what seems like an indefinite period of time. It doesn’t make sense that we can’t be with the people we love or go to the places we enjoy. But that’s kind of how God operates- in ways that don’t make sense to the human mind because His ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
This is why Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Our understanding is often limited and flawed, so it’s bound to lead us astray. But God’s knowledge is perfect and all-encompassing. The less we understand the more we have to put our faith in God. The less we can control the more we have to rely on God. The less able we are to make something happen for ourselves or in our lives, the more God gets the glory.
Not only that, but we must stand firm on God’s word which tells us He has plans for us that are good and prosperous as outlined in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And since God is not a man that he should lie it means we can rest assured on His promise.
Honestly, I think the lesson in all of this has been letting go of my obsessive need to know and understand it all. By choosing to let go of the need to make sense out of the nonsense, I’ve embraced the freedom that comes with letting God be who He is in the midst of this chaotic and nonsensical situation- always good, always reliable, always faithful, and always on time. All I need to know right now is that God has me safely in His arms. The how and when and why of it all doesn’t matter at this moment, because ultimately all things will work together for the good in the end.