God of Our Pandemic Panic

Last week, I attended a Colony House concert, amidst the beginnings of the pandemic pandemonium. While at the concert, I learned the band had officially cancelled the rest of the tour until further notice due to the virus. Things felt eerie and weird, being there, knowing everything going on in the world.

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Lead singer Caleb Chapman paused between songs to talk about what we were all doing at this venue, singing together. He talked about how many people would look at concerts like this as attempted escapism from the the world outside the doors behind us. But he expressed his disagreement. He explained that he wanted this to instead be an environment for us to scream and lament about everything going on in our lives, or to rejoice and dance at the celebrations of our lives. We were not to shy away from reality but face it head-on. Then, as they continued their song, He encouraged us to sing our “ohhhhsss” together as loud and passionately as we needed to. The room filled with grown men and women yelling at the top of their lungs in harmony and cacophony, lament and comradery.

Though this was no worship service and God was never spoken about explicitly, I know that Colony House has talked about faith in Christ on previous albums, and the themes of Leave What’s Lost Behind are certainly still full of themes I have applied to my faith walk. And whatever faith (or lack of) in that room, I could’ve wept at the sound of everyone singing,

Come on, come on, sing it like a soldier

Come on, come on you know it ain’t over

Everybody’s lookin’ for some light.

Ultimately that light is Christ, even if we don’t know it and keep stumbling around looking for it. And right now, we need that more than ever. I think this virus is bringing out that cry for the light of Christ in ways we sometimes try to smother.

It’s no accident that the virus is happening during Lent.

It’s no accident that people are forced into thinking about life and death in a truly tangible way. And if not life and death, the isolation and effects of fear are waking us up to lacking connections and dissatisfaction with things’ present state.

I have no reason to be afraid, and yet I admittedly get scared.

I always sweat the stuff that’s so small in light of eternity…

What if I died, or Jesus came back and I never got married, graduated, or became famous?

And then, there are the bigger, valid, scarier questions…

What if my loved ones catch it and die?

What if that person I care about never accepts Christ before He comes back?

What if I really am not living rightly under God’s judgement and am only kidding myself?

Hang on. Maybe there’s something deeper and more troubling hiding behind that last question. Ah, yes, there are the other ones behind it:

What if Jesus wasn’t enough?

What if God doesn’t redeem us like He says He will? 

What if God’s plan isn’t as good as I was told or believed?

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Untitled by Antony Gormley, 1983 (spotted at the Walker Art Center recently, displayed alongside an untitled Arnulf Rainer drawing of Christ’s face while He was on the cross)

As I learn to pray for hard things and present to God my questions and doubts in scary times like this, I’m finding fear, and this is a kind of fear needing redemption.

Here’s the difference behind holy and unholy fear, reader: A holy fear encourages us to be still  and know He is God, meaning it’s time we repent and discover the love He’s always had for us. Our stillness will humble us into releasing control to God and practicing rest.

An unholy fear tells us that redemption doesn’t exist and will never come—that there’s no hope for us. It tells us to keep living as we do, because there’s no use trying to change anyway. That we are lost causes and that even if we tried changing, God cannot complete that good work. It tells us Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection wasn’t enough.

Unholy fear says that if Jesus is coming back, we have reason to be terrified of judgement. Holy fear teaches us to repent (in Hebrew, “repent” is literally to turn around and walk a different way) in good terror of that judgement, and then take joy in the coming redemption of this broken, messed-up world.

So…are we living in the End Times?

I can’t say. I won’t make a guess. But let’s live in that tension anyway emergency or not.

Let’s live in the tension of awaiting redemption, joyfully as Christians.

Let it change how we’re living right now, virus or not. The Kingdom of God is at hand. We do not know the day or the hour. Let’s ask God to search our hearts every single day and find anything that shouldn’t be there. Let’s ask Him to meet our unbelieving friends so they come to know His love too. Let’s ask Him to meet us.

Hard as it may be. Let’s breathe and sabbath, here in our quarantines, our slowed economics, and our fear of wars. Let’s breathe and love our neighbor who needs to really see Jesus right now. Let’s not be anxious but rejoice, knowing that our heavenly Father sees us and provides for all our needs.

Let’s breathe and know that God is the One sustaining and giving us our breath.

 

Breathe.

 

Breathe deeply.


Extra Encouragement

I’ve got no answers for heartbreaks or cancers,
But a Savior who suffers them with me.

 

This is just soil for something better than we could’ve planned frens,
-Heidi

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