When my dad first got a little hand-held GPS thingummyjig, I asked him how it worked. Do you know what he told me? He told me that the screen flashes up with a little stick man pointing at the ground and saying ‘you are here’. It was 100% accurate wherever you took it (this is the man who told my you could wash your stick insects by putting them in an upside down test tube and sticking them in the top rack of the dishwasher on the gentle setting — in case you ever wonder why I am the way I am).
Funny thing, but it made sense (the GPS, not the stick insects).
This year has been one of pandemic, murder hornets, rioting, and (most recently) thundersnow. The truth is that for many people it has felt like a big yellow YOU ARE (stuck) HERE sticker without any map underneath to tell us where Here is. For some people, it means they’ve lost their bearings, for others, they’re losing their minds.
I just popped my head in, dear struggling believer, to remind you where you are.
Covid has brought about something of a tragic clarity, in the West at least. There is a degree of truth in the idea that hardship reveals people’s true character, and a global trial has revealed something of the collective beliefs we cling to.
It turns out, that when the things we pin our hopes on are removed or undermined, we tend to go to pieces.
I don’t know your situation. I don’t know what love and loss you’ve gone through in your life or what keeps you up at night, but I do know something that will help.
Our illusion of control has come crashing down around us, and it’s a hard thing to come to terms with. But Christian, we never had all that much control over our plans, that’s why we say ‘we’ll do this thing on this day, God-willing’ (a phrase that has sadly fallen out of use). Yes, life felt much more predictable before, but it wasn’t any more within our control than it is now.
I’m not telling you to suck it up buttercup, and I’m no conspiracy theorist, I just know my own sinful heart. I know the temptation to stress about what I could be doing to fix a problem. I know the sinful worry that agonises the hours I should be sleeping instead, and I know the misery of doing all I can and still having to sit back and watch things play out the very way I didn’t want them to because all the willpower in the world can’t make it go my way. And I know you feel these things too sometimes because you and I? We’re both humans.
This temptation is only exacerbated, not caused, by the current worldwide situation, the media propaganda, and the fact that all the regular struggles of life don’t just disappear while this nonsense is going on.
Believer, you’ve got to look up.
Hibernate (or delete!!) your social media accounts, limit your news intake, start keeping a record of your answered prayers, listen to more good Christian music, get yourself in the Word and make it a non-negotiable part of your day — do whatever you have to do to stop fixating on this present world and get your focus fixed back on Christ.
Your problems won’t go away, but at least you’ll get a good night’s rest because when you are focussed on God, you remember who he is and you can go to sleep in peace knowing that God is awake. It’s ok to say your situation is bad (just read the Psalms), but it’s not ok to melt into a puddle of crippling anxiety.
Do you or do you not have a sovereign God who rules all things by the might of his power?
If you are in Christ (which you are, if you are a Christian), then wherever and whatever you are, you are firmly in God’s hand and he’s not letting you go. The God who cannot lie has told us that none of his own will be lost (John 10:28-30), he has told us to cast our cares upon him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and he has told us that he will carry us safely through fire and flood (Isaiah 43:1-3a).
When you’re looking at your situational GPS and it’s just an unhelpful little stick man pointing at the ground where you’re standing, saying ‘you are here’, it’s 100% accurate because regardless of your geographical location and life situation, the Christian is always in exactly the same place: secure in the hand of God.
2020 won’t last forever, no matter what it feels like. It will evaporate into memory and then probably legend and fable. Your heartache, your grief, your job concerns, relationship difficulties, sickness, worries, they’re where you are now, but Christian, they’re going to be gone soon too. This present, vexing situation you find yourself in, you’re not going to be here forever.
The reason we use GPS and those little tourist map things that tell us where we are is because we want to know where we are so that we can work out how to get where we’re going from here.
Believer, your God (remember, the one that cannot lie?) has promised where you are now — safely in his hand — but he has also promised where you’ll end up.
He’s going to bring you safely home.
There will be no more sickness there, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sin. We will have an eternity of tomorrows with not a drop of worry between them and this world and all its troubles won’t even measure a grain of sand on the shores of an eternity with our Saviour.
Where you are now and what’s happening to you in this sin-marred world is painful and it sucks and it’s ok to say that out loud. You don’t have to plaster a cheesy fake smile on your face and kid on everything is dandy, but we should give thanks in all circumstances and seek ways to bring God glory while we’re there rather than go to pieces alongside a godless world.
Remember where you are, where you’re going, and who is bringing you there.
You are here, secure in God’s hand, and he’ll bring you safe to glory. He promised.