I do not like “unknowns”. One of the most challenging parts of this COVID-19 pandemic for me is not having clear answers to the many questions rushing through my mind. One of the most pervasive questions is this: “when will this end?”. It’s like I am craving a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. However, there is no clear indication of when it will be over. We just don’t know when our lives will resume without the present threat looming over us.
I ran across a poem posted by our friend, Jason Williams this morning. Here’s the link: “Does the Wilderness go on Forever?”
I immediately sat back and began to apply the symbolism of “the Israelites wandering around in the wilderness” (the story found in Exodus) to what we are going through right now. We may have much in common with the Israelites. We are in a prolonged period of wandering around, stripped of the normalcy/routines that we were so used to. We do not know where we are headed or when we will get there. There is much uncertainty, leading to anxiety for many of us. Fear is rampant, and often in the driver’s seat of our perspective and decision making. Fear is such a powerful, vicious motivator. We feed off of each other’s fears, maybe even to the point of losing sight of hope at times. We will be tempted to blame our leaders and each other for the problem we face. We may question God as to why He would allow us to go through this. Eager for a solution, we will be tempted to ignore our better judgment and grab ahold of anything that offers answers or a way out. We may yearn to return to the way things were, rather than look ahead to what might be in store on the horizon.
While we will struggle to believe this at times, there is hope in all of this. There will be an end to our present situation. We do not know when or how, for sure, but the outbreak will end. And when it does, the wilderness will have offered many things to us along the way. Painful as it all may be, we can rise up and embrace good things during this time.
We are NOT in control. If no other point is driving home for me right now, that one sure is. While I can trust the guidelines offered to me by those who are much more knowledgeable than me about such things, I can not manufacture all the details of the outcome. Unfortunately, it has become cliche to say “God is in control”. It’s one of those phrases that many of us have heard so many times that it often falls flat, not having the impact we need that truth to have. Perhaps it’s because of what those four words don’t say.
So what if He’s in control? We’ve all been under people’s control that didn’t handle us very well. The difference with our God and many authority figures in our lives is that He doesn’t fail us. His motive is simple but powerful. He loves us. His love is something that we cannot possibly fully comprehend. All of His actions and decisions are a product of that love that He has for us. With that love, He can be trusted when He said He would always be with us, even in the darkest times in the wilderness. He does not delight in the fact that we are hurting. Instead, it hurts Him greatly to see us struggle. With such love, He has a plan for us to reach our destination. He has an exit plan, even though it may not come as quickly or in the way that we envision it. He will carry us through the most difficult parts of the wilderness, making a way when we just cannot possibly envision one. He will fight and provide for us. Even though many of us will falter during this time, turning to ourselves and being selfish, He will not turn His back on us for a second. He knows how hard this is for us.
Our old manufactured ways of self-reliance are proving to be severely deficient right now. The present problem has exposed our inability to handle things alone. Now is a perfect time to learn how to embrace His love for us. He promises that He has us in His hand, and nothing or no one can snatch us out of it. This needs to be more than head-knowledge for us now. We need it to be the very essence by which we take each and every step.
This unprecedented time of hardship and loss WILL come to an end. Just as there was a “promised land” at the end of the wilderness for the Israelites, there is something else just over the horizon for us as well. For the present, as difficult as it may be, our journey along the way can be maneuvered in a way that offers hope to sustain us. The more we learn to trust and surrender ourselves over to His love, the more it will become the reality that we live in and rely on. His love can carry us through and far past the wilderness that we are presently wandering in. Perhaps that love, in and of itself, is all the promised land we need. It isn’t something we have to wait on. It is available right now to embrace.