“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.”
True rest — emotional, physical, spiritual rest — can only be found in making our life right with Christ. We are not only in the midst of a global pandemic, we are in the midst of a global moral meltdown and a global spiritual reckoning. God’s Word is full of stories not unlike what the world is facing today... the flood, plagues, and wars were meant in part to sift the earth of evil and draw hearts unto Himself.
Believers, we are called to point to the cross with words and lives that communicate the gospel. To share the Good News with a gentle and humble spirit. To urge those who need Jesus to call on His name, seek forgiveness, and reckon their lives to Him, so they too might “live lives worthy of God, who calls them into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).
We are watching the world around us panic while God acts with intention true to His Word to get His children’s attention and draw them to Himself. Many are asking, “How could a loving God send such illness on His people and death upon the world?” Yet He bids them in return, “How could My children wander so far away from Me and call the wickedness, immorality and idol worship in the world today 'good'?”
Spiritual reckoning makes our hearts right with God in preparation for the “Day of Reckoning” known as Christ’s return and final judgement in the book of Revelation. Every so often God has to say, “Enough! I gave My life so My children might give Me theirs. I love them too much to let them drown in their sin and guilty pleasures. I am jealous for their hearts and I want their eyes on Me." So He brings about circumstances that stop us in our tracks and shift our attention to what is really important: loving God with all our heart, and loving our neighbor as ourself.
We cannot even begin to fathom all that God is up to, but it is evident He's calling some of His faithful children heavenward through infection with this virus. He is calling others to grieve losses alone and consider their own mortality and eternal destiny. He is isolating patients in hospital rooms, removing all loved ones and distractions, so they might finally hear His voice and give their hearts to Him. He always has purpose.
He is reckoning believers and unbelievers alike, knocking down idols made on stages, in sporting arenas, malls, strip clubs and the social scene, by stripping away the audience. The idols of public platforms, people, applause, sports, shopping, sex, addictions, and the like. He always has purpose.
He is obliterating false senses of security found in our routines, agendas, jobs, bank accounts, creature comforts, physical health, food, family, and friends. Those things that we have become more dependent on than Jesus. He always has purpose.
Yet all the while caring for us and making sure our basic needs are met, granting access to grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, emergency healthcare, the great outdoors for sunshine and God-given vitamin D, and access to the people we love via technology. He cares for His children. He doesn’t leave them high and dry. No, He provides manna in the wilderness. He is our Caretaker.
A loving God does whatever it takes to make a wicked and wandering world right with Him. To “rend” our hearts and not our garments is to be broken and grieved over our sin and genuinely change on the inside, not just the outside.
IF we allow God Himself to do a deep work and change our hearts from the inside out, not just change our clothes or outward appearance, THEN He promises in Joel 2:13 to be “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and relent from sending calamity.”
The life that trusts Jesus, the life that makes wrongs right and seeks spiritual victory in every aspect, finds rest. Rest from sin. Rest from shame. Rest from seeking. Rest from striving. Rest emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Rest in Jesus, even in the midst of the world’s calamity.