Devotional: April 2, 2020
“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.”
James 5: 7-8
We all just changed our calendars from March to April, and our Governor extended his “Stay Home” orders until the end of this brand-new month. I think it is dawning on everyone that this social-distancing thing is going to be here for a while.
One of my friends used a weather analogy. At first, we thought this coronavirus would be like a blizzard. It would be bad, and we would be stuck inside for a few days, but then it would be over. Now, I think we’re realizing that this blizzard is the beginning of a winter season, and this challenge could last considerably longer than we expected.
Meanwhile, we wait. Waiting is not something we are always very good at, especially in this age of microwaved foods, two-day shipping, email, and instant access to media 24-7. Whether we enjoy it or not, we must now learn, or for some, re-learn, how to be patient as we wait.
All through the scriptures, we have examples of people of faith spending a lot of time waiting. They are waiting for the Lord. We see examples of the Jewish people waiting for God to release them from bondage in Egypt. Then after forty years of waiting and wondering, they wait for God and Joshua to lead them into the promised land. After Jesus walked this earth and then went to be with His father, He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We do not know the day or the time that this virus will be defeated. When Jesus told the disciples that He would return, He did not give them a time or a date when that would occur. Matthew 24:26 says; “No one knows that, not even the heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows”. So, here we are: living in situation where we are forced to wait. What are we going to do with ourselves? What kind of an attitude are we going to choose to have?
James 5 tells us to be like the farmer, who knows that waiting patiently will result in valuable crops. When we lived in Idaho, we lived in a very agricultural area, just like the Wenatchee Valley. Some of our closest friends who were farmers who grew onions and sugar beets. We would watch them get all their machinery ready during the winter. When the weather was right, we would watch them plant the seeds. Then, they would wait. Yet what did they do while they were waiting? After the crops were planted, did they go off to Disneyland with their family? Did they take a long vacation, or a cruise? No, they stayed and cared for their crops as they were growing.
We are basically in the same position as those farmers. We have to wait, but it’s what we do with this time which can help us reap a great harvest. Some people may be angry and upset with God that this is happening. They may even turn away from Him. I would caution you to stay away from this temptation, for it will not give you the harvest you will want to reap.
This crazy time can actually be an unscheduled opportunity. I’m pretty sure we all feel the need to “escape”. What better place to run to than the scriptures? I find such a sense of peace to begin my day, when I begin it by spending time in God’s word. As people of faith, you may have already been using a daily devotion. If not, what better time than now to start a new routine? Some research shows that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, guess what friends? We all have 21 days, plus some, to begin a new habit.
I also think this is an opportunity to help us with our attitude towards life. We can choose to sit, be frustrated, watch all the news and movies we can absorb, and allow our bodies to just become physically weary. Or, we can choose to do things that will help us feel better. I often find that my attitude is so much better when I feel like I have accomplished even the simplest thing. Right now, I believe we all need to force ourselves to adjust, and re-adjust, on a daily basis, as we walk through this time.
So, what kind of an attitude do we choose to have? Some people are using this time to learn to play a musical instrument (through online lessons), or to help out with a crowd-sourced science project, or to organize their cupboards, etc. Others are passing the time by re-reading their favorite books. Our neighbors are all laughing, from a distance of course, that we are all going to have the best yards this summer!
As we wait for this time to end, remember the most important truths about waiting.
First, God is always with us, even during this time of extended waiting, just as he was present with the Israelites in the desert for forty years.
Second, realize that we can wait in exasperation and frustration, or we can wait in expectation through preparation.
Third, realize that someday, this time of waiting will end. All through history, we can read of terrible plagues when there was no medical help available. There were grim results in centuries past. The timeline may be unclear, but I believe as we have watched the scientists around the world work together, there will be a vaccine eventually. It may not happen as fast as we all wish, but I believe it will happen.
Finally, and most importantly, pray! I have been told that even non-Christians are turning to prayer during this pandemic. Remember the old saying, “there are no atheists in foxholes”? Well friends, we are all essentially in a foxhole. The action of prayer to our Lord gives us a connection. For some who are following the “Stay Home” requirement and are physically alone, you are not truly alone. You really do have someone to talk to, and He is there for you 24/7. God will meet you with all your concerns, for He is there for you. Prayer can help us immensely during this waiting time.
“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run, and not faint. They shall walk, and not be weary.” Isaiah 40: 31
Prayer for the Day
God of all time,
We are tired of waiting, and we realize there is much more time ahead of us to wait. We confess that we are impatient, and that our stress level is elevated. Help us to turn to You, in the midst of our weariness in waiting. Transform us from impatient people into faithful disciples. Help us to wait patiently upon You, and Your will. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.