Your spiritual growth opportunity brought to you by COVID-19

Either by design or default, many of you are home with your children fulltime and possibly homeschooling to boot. 

My husband and I are suddenly (and unexpectedly) home with two of our college daughters. I can assure you that we are not homeschooling. 

Embrace the unexpected

Nothing about this was in our plan, nor was it on our calendar. But yet, here we are, navigating uncharted territory with our kids.

Sometimes we like it. Sometimes we don’t. 

It can be exciting to suddenly have unplanned time together as a family, especially with our children. Our busy schedules are the usual suspects for not finding enough time to enjoy board games, do homework, or eat dinner around the table. 

Then poof! Just like that. Our schedules became a tad bit more flexible. 

But figuring out how to fill our quarantined hours can be as daunting as it is exciting. The time can be fraught with disagreement, irritability, and even disappointment. 

Contemplate his intention

And in the sudden turbulence of trying to figure it all out, we might also be worrying about job security, elderly family members, and a host of other valid concerns brought on by the crisis. Not to mention the additional challenges of relationship struggles before the crisis or a tragic loss or illness prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The combination can make you feel like you are on a sinking ship. You might, unwittingly, fail to stop and consider this question: 

God, what do you intend for me to learn from this mess?

Consider his plan

It’s not as if God were surprised by any of this: “Even before I speak a word, O Lord, you know it all” (Psalm 139:4 NLV).

He has always had a plan for us from the very moment of our existence: “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:15–16 ESV). 

According to Isaiah 14:27, that plan can never be thwarted. 

Do you believe in God’s plan?

If you believe in God’s plan, you must believe that he has something for you to learn while parenting through this viral crisis. He has something for you to learn through any challenge that besets you. 

Listen: Opportunity is knocking

Now more than ever, your opportunity for spiritual growth is knocking at the door. 

So often, we say things like: “When I am retired, I will spend more time at home.” Or, “When I make more money, I will be able to have people over, give more money to the church, or help those in need.” 

Something similar happens in a crisis. We say, “When this is all over, I will have more time and energy to listen to what God is trying to teach me.” Or, “One day I will be able to (fill in the blank), just not now.” 

These excuses are a web of self-deceit in which our faith is contingent upon the outcome of our circumstances. It’s as if the jury is always out on our faith. 

Faith precedes circumstance

But faith in Jesus demands something different from us. It demands a faith that precedes the circumstances of our lives. It is an anticipatory, hopeful, and visionary faith. It calls for a faith that looks for God’s hand at work in our current situation, not holding out for the conclusion. 

When our faith and trust in Jesus come first in our prayers, meditations, and decisions, only then are we able to fully glean all that he has for us. We are able to appreciate his blessings right in the middle of our troubles, not later. 

This unleashes exponential spiritual growth. 

Engage in prayer

We can pray something like this: “God, I don’t really like homeschooling under these circumstances or being so isolated at home. I am also worried about the economy and my loved ones. But I’m believing that you are going to show us the way. I believe in your omnipotence and your power to change lives. What is it you want for me to learn about myself or others in this challenge? And, in doing so, what would you like for me to do now?” 

The Psalmist also said, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5 NIV). 

Notice that there was none of this: “After you deliver me from the enemy, then you will make my cup overflow, God.” 

No! Indeed, God prepared a bountiful table for him in the very presence of his enemies. In the middle of the crisis, God made his servant’s cup overflow! 

That should blow our minds.

Find comfort in the mess

So, I ask you: What does God have for you to learn in this moment, in this hour, on this day, right smack in the middle of this crisis of COVID-19? 

It could be that extreme self-reliance severely hampers your dependence on God and on the trusted persons he has placed in your life. 

It could be that he wants to mend your broken relationships. 

It could possibly be that he wants you to see that your bank account isn’t your security. Your Jehovah Jireh provider is. 

Maybe he wants to remind you that your role as a parent is as important as your role as a professional or ministry leader. Maybe he is calling you and your children to be more hospitable and in tune to the needs of your community. 

It’s likely different for us all. 

As unique as our DNA when he formed us in our mothers’ wombs, so are the answers and the comfort that he alone can provide for us in the middle of our mess. 

Seek him where you are

Whatever it is, he wants you to listen to him now, not at a time determined appropriate by you

Certainly, God desires us to examine past events and see his footprint through it all. As David so eloquently put it, “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37 NIV). 

But there is no way we can be like David if we are not beseeching him in the middle of our crisis. There is no way to have David’s spiritual hindsight, seeing God’s healing hand in any of this, if we do not seek him where we are.