Answers in Abnormal Times

Posted by Susan On May 6, 2020 ADD COMMENTS

“Dear friends,” the email began, “thank all of you for the kind words, prayers, and patience as Peter and I decided how to move forward with our wedding. Due to our state’s stay-at-home extension, Peter and I have decided to cancel our wedding as previously planned…” 

…and my heart simply broke for this young bride.  Like so many other brides right now, she had dreamed of her special day since she was a little girl, only to have her dreams completely shattered on the very brink of their fulfillment by a hypothetical pandemic that somehow succeeded to shut down the entire world, cripple the livelihood of thousands, and cause utter chaos and frustration– and, yes, broken dreams.

It’s early May of 2020 as I write this, and life as we have always known it remains at a standstill after two full months. It was all so sudden, not gradual as we would have expected this kind of thing to be. It never gave us enough time to think through creative ideas for “Plan B” weddings, or to find alternative ways of making a living when our businesses were shut down, or to withhold having children until the world was safe enough for our kids to inherit it, or even at least to make sure we had enough supplies to last us as long as the lockdown will demand.

This kind of thing has never happened before in the history of the world, and whether or not we will ever find out the real facts of what brought this about, it’s clear that stopping the whole world was a relatively easy– and fast– thing to do. 

Each morning, I wake wondering incredulously how it is that every normal aspect of life has so suddenly become abnormal. My husband and I sat at our breakfast table and the absurdity of our conversation – about how we could actually be arrested for simply opening up our business or for going to church– completely stunned me. Will life ever be normal, I wonder? What lessons will we have learned from this? What will our priorities be from now until forever? And for goodness sake, what are we supposed to be doing during this strange and abnormal time?

The coronavirus is pretty much the solitary conversation these days, much to my annoyance. Trying to figure out how to live life within the crux of our confinement to house arrest has certainly been challenging, and that’s how we’ll forever remember that it was. Added to that, trying to grasp the reality of our faith in the midst of it has also been a test of gigantic proportion. Will there ever be conversation outside of “coronavirus” again?

Writing a book is a long, hard task, and I had been working on one long and hard when in a mere moment, the content of it suddenly seemed so insignificant. Irrelevant. Unimportant. The idea of Kingdom life being characterized by “life and fruitfulness” seemed disconnected– so bland in the greater context of this world crisis. 

Until I got the email mentioned above. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? 

In truth, I’d been dragging my feet each day with a despondency as though this was the end of life as we’ve known it. With our liberties snatched away, I’d resigned myself to believing that we are all now subjected to merely marking time until we get to heaven and find our freedom in Christ once again. I had found myself living under a frustrating cloud of resignation to the successful coercion of “the enemy,” I guess. 

That is, until I read that email. And just as suddenly and powerfully as the coronavirus news had hit us, Jeremiah 29 came shouting– or “dancing,” perhaps– into my mind. 

This chapter of the Bible tells of the letter Jeremiah sent to the Israelites who had been taken from Jerusalem into captivity in Babylon. Specifically, it gave them instructions about how they were to live life while under the restraints of being prisoners in exile, in “lockdown”: 

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel to all the exiles…Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare…” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

God has called us to live above our circumstances. He has given us very significant tasks to accomplish while we are in captivity: get married; have children; increase; and change the place of our captivity into one that glorifies God so that we ourselves might be healthy in every respect– in our spirits, our minds, our bodies. 

The dominion mandate that God gave to man in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it” was not given to the exclusion of coronavirus or the lockdown edicts of elected officials who are enjoying the tight grip they’re holding on us. The dominion mandate was given to man for always, even and especially in captivity. 

The brides whose plans have been overturned have had to make some huge adjustments amid big disappointments. But even within that context, they are reflecting God’s glory by getting married and are thereby part of His answer to freedom within the captivity. 

Women who are having children need not fear raising children during very difficult times of captivity. They are part of God’s answer! Raising the next generation of Godly children is our response to His command to overturn adverse times: increase and raise faithful children for the glory of God.

Planting gardens, building houses, seeking the welfare of the place where we live are all acts of obedience to the commands of God in order to take dominion and overcome the enemy. 

If we’ve ever needed to be reminded of the message of “life and fruitfulness” that God has given to those of us who live in His Kingdom, it’s now. God’s Word to us has not changed. Our circumstances may have changed, but His command to us has not. The Kingdom of God is characterized by life and fruitfulness and nothing that happens around us will ever change that. 

God commands us to increase, not decrease. Now is not the time for us to pull back or mark time. It’s a time to increase, to move forward, to live life to the fullest.

Ours is a message of hope, of life, of increase. No enemy can ever take that from us. 

Plans may change, but beautiful brides will keep on getting married; lush gardens will keep on being planted; houses will still get built; babies will keep on being born; life will keep going on– because no enemy can ever defeat the life and fruitfulness that characterizes the very heart of the Kingdom of God to which we belong.  

Now God’s Word to us isn’t so hard, is it?  It’s rather exciting, actually. 



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