Psalm 43:5 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil with me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
I relate to the psalmists, I’m weary. I’m afraid I might also be spoiled. I’m wondering if what I thought was the normal Christian life maybe isn’t normal at all. In that sense, I wonder if the church is experiencing what they call a re-setting of the market.
Saturday morning Pastor Drew Thurman posted on Twitter, “What if some of the things we are mourning - having to give up are actually things we shouldn’t go back to in our future life?”
In other words, what if suffering for our faith is the norm and not the exception? What if 1st Peter 4:12 & 13 is supposed to be more normal than we could have ever imagined prior to this pandemic? Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also be glad when His glory is revealed.”
Normal for us is not suffering and doing without but rather our normal is our Sunday and Wednesday schedule. But now the teacher is telling us to clean off our desks, put our books away and take out a clean sheet of paper and a pencil because we are going to have a test. When ever we are tested it is to see if what we have been learning on Sunday and Wednesday has taken root in our heart so that when we are put in a bind (like now) we know what to do - rejoice, be glad, be thankful, reflect and maybe redefine normal by reconciling the way we live with Scripture.
J. Pokluda pastor of Harris Creek Baptist in Waco says, “I hope we never go back to normal. I know that’s hard to imagine, but there are parts of ‘normal’ that need to change. So, let’s go back to something better than normal. Greater devotion, deeper community. Stronger love for one another. More openhanded generosity. Courageous sharing. Committed discipleship. What if the new normal is a stronger church. A redefined Christian. A deeper faith. A reviving of the soul, an awakening.”
What if we used this time to rethink normal? I’m not sure what church is going to be like when the doors reopen. They will reopen so don’t be concerned about that but it might not be the same at least temporarily - but what if God doesn’t want it (or us) to be the same (normal)? What if this should be a time of confession and repentance?
For sure this is a time of opportunity. When else have you had the option to invite your friends to stay at home but “come to church?” Come to church but "stay at home," stay in your pajamas and eat your Grape Nuts but worship with us online. This is an unprecedented moment for evangelism. What I’m saying is right now the local church is no longer bound geographically or limited by the 4 walls of the church building. Discipleship is truly on demand, the church in many ways is just catching up with the culture in a positive way and I’m thankful for that. This is like what Dicken’s wrote, both the best and the worst of times - maybe the most normal of times. The Apostle Paul put it like this, "There is an open door for effective work, but it is not without adversity (1st Corinthians 16:9)."
We will gather again and we can’t wait for that to happen, but who will gather? Will this time in isolation have been redeemed for our good and God’s glory? Maybe weary is okay, maybe new and different isn’t so bad. Maybe suffering is undervalued by the modern church. Maybe suffering should not surprise us and maybe we should be glad that we are living a Jesus kind of life? He told me to tell you that.