As we see America’s huge divide politically and racially, we acknowledge the painful reality that the country is deeply divided. These divisions may cause difficult tensions in close relationships and cause us to feel disillusioned with our leaders.
Many of us may feel insecure and uncertain about our own lives and friends and family. We long to socialize freely, travel, enjoy unlimited entertainment, and be carefree. Many of us are burdened by racial tension and the fact that people of color suffer disproportionately from the pandemic. Many of us are overwhelmed by news of violence, economic instability, stress, disappointment, conflicts, isolation, fatigue, pain, loss, sickness, and fear.
As we face these difficulties, I’m reminded of Lamentations 3:21–24:
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
God is our hope when we feel disoriented. He loves us and is faithful to show us his mercies each day. In these tough times, Jesus wants to reorient our relationship with him and others and realign our values to be more in line with his.
Be Reoriented in Your Walk with God
As we experience changes in worship, fellowship, and life, receive God’s invitation to grow deeper in your faith and in him. Throughout Scripture, countless stories show that faith grows through difficulties and that we are in a spiritual battle. In this tumultuous time, we can experience God’s presence, deeper connections with others, and greater clarity in developing a faith that is resilient and real.
God invites us to vulnerably connect with him. Be “ugly honest” about the brokenness you see in yourself and the world. Receive his forgiveness for your sins and his help with your shortcomings. Ask him how he wants to bring hope to you, others, and the world. As we lose things that we rely on for comfort and security, God promises us his satisfying love, peace, and life. Seek to learn from inspirational current, historical, and biblical role models who serve God and make a difference.
Be Reoriented in Community
Who are the people who nurture your life, share kingdom values, and can support and accompany you in this journey? How are you developing these relationships?
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on loving our neighbor without really loving ourselves. What do you need to live out God’s hope? In this season, we are more vulnerable and more clearly see the brokenness in our lives that needs healing. Besides bringing this to God, take time to share vulnerably with trusted friends or leaders who can pray for you. See a counselor if needed. Seek guidance from godly people who can guide you in the way of wholeness and faith. Let God bring healing and forgiveness to your relationships.
I am thankful that God is addressing areas in my life that need deeper healing and forgiveness. It has been freeing to share more deeply my needs with others, receive prayer, and see God’s transformational work in me. As I did a 40-day sugar fast, it was a significant time to take a deeper look at my motivations with food and run more to God.
Be Reoriented to Kingdom Values
Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In this disorienting and painful time, God invites us to walk with him and share his heart. Seek to love others. Show mercy by caring about justice, seeking human dignity and healthy conditions for everyone. God’s greatest commandments are to love him with our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
When we experience stress and trauma, things that really matter become clearer. Take time to reflect on what you truly value, on what relationships you want to grow. As we reorient our lives to Jesus and his kingdom, he will also reveal more of our identity and calling.
Experiencing pain in our lives, campuses, and world can help us develop stronger convictions about how we want to live out God’s presence. Ask yourself:
Is Jesus putting a specific vulnerable group on your heart, like those of another culture, the sick and dying, the poor or those suffering with mental illness?
Are there ways that you can live out creation care during this climate crisis?
How are you challenged to explore more of your own ethnic identity and break down racial and ethnic barriers toward another group?
Is there anything that you would like to do differently after this pandemic?
When I think of loving others, God wants me to not only love my family and friends, but I feel his calling to love those who are suffering. God is giving me a stronger conviction to be an agent of racial reconciliation, justice, and care for those in the margins. It’s not easy, but I feel stronger than ever about my calling to love others who are hurting through serving, prayer, healing, and using my voice. I am more committed to live out God’s love, grace, and truth.
Though 2020 has been a difficult, challenging year, it can also be a way for us to grow toward 20/20 vision in our lives. Take time in this difficult season to receive from God in new ways. Enjoy him in his creation. Journal. Grow deeper faith in your friendships and as you live out God’s hope in the world. Whatever type of disorientation you face, God can reorient you to a more meaningful life with him, yourself, and others. He is our hope!
Brenda has spent over 41 years leading, discipling, and developing InterVarsity students and staff in San Francisco and Hawai`i. You can support her ministry at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#17.
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School just started and it’s not what you’ve ever imagined college to be like. Instead of moving into the dorms, you’re stuck at home. Instead of all the welcome events with free food at the beginning of the year, you’re attending one Zoom call after another. It’s easy to focus on all the things we’re missing out on this season.
If you’re like me, you may be struggling with FOMO, worry, and complaints.
While it's important to acknowledge what's hard and mourn what we've lost, it's equally if not more important to recognize the gift of the pandemic as the new school year begins. Perhaps there are unprecedented opportunities God has for us during this unique season.
With sheltering in place and so many world-altering events happening right now, intense, loaded conversations are becoming increasingly common. Yet doing anything else may sound better than talking about something so potentially divisive (any Enneagram 7s or 9s here?). But how will these issues ever be resolved if they aren’t first acknowledged?