I spent a lot of my adult life trying to figure out whether my difficulty developing meaningful friendships has to do with my personality or my life situation. I have concluded that there are a lot of complex factors. Add a pandemic, and it is possible that I have never been more annoying and out-of-touch. I am not experiencing the impact on my life that many others are. While I am concerned and I am praying for my friends, family, neighbors, and nation, I am not struggling. Every weekday, I get up and go to my essential, yet thankless job of making sure that people are able to use their bank accounts to send and receive funds. The situation at work is strange, but the tasks to be done are the same, which provides normality. I always spend most of my off-time at home. Home is my preferred coffee shop, gym, restaurant, and movie theater. While trips to the store are less frequent, I miss going to church, and I could probably use a haircut, life doesn’t feel that much different.
I don’t know whether I am walking by faith or not needing to have faith. Could my peace with the circumstances stem from the fact that I don’t have enough to lose? I don’t have a husband or children being impacted by the quarantine. I don’t own a home or have a mortgage to pay. I have been able to continue working and my employment is not in immediate danger. The situation is simply less stressful for me. As I pray for others, I look around and see God’s immense blessing and faithfulness to me. It brings me to my knees because I know that it is not because of anything I have done. I spent years wrestling with God because He was withholding what I wanted most. Now, I recognize what a blessed life He has given me in the simplicity of quiet singleness.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-17
A phrase came to my mind this week, “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing.” It is a chapter title in A.W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God. The thesis of the chapter is that we need to commit all of our treasure and talents to God, recognizing that all we have is from Him, and thereby ensuring that we do not allow ourselves to worship the things we possess rather than God who is the Creator and Giver of these gifts. Tozer used as an example Abraham’s offering of Isaac. After that event, when God reiterated His covenant with Abraham, He said, “. . .because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you. . .” (Genesis 22:16) Tozer pointed out that Abraham considered all he had, even his son, to be God’s. Abraham was a rich man, yet he did not cling to his possessions. Tozer wrote, “He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret.”
These are difficult times, and the concerns for the health and prosperity of ourselves, our families, and our nation are real. But it is not our jobs that provide for us, and neither should we place trust in the faithfulness of our government. God alone is trustworthy and faithful to provide. Around the world, people are grieving for loved ones who have died and struggling with the loss of employment. It is a good time to take Tozer’s advice and surrender all we have to God. While I was reading The Pursuit of God for the first time, I got news that my nephew had begun having seizures. It happened fairly soon after my sister’s family had moved out of state. The young boy I loved so much was having a scary health problem, and I was more than a thousand miles away. I was hit with the truth that there was nothing I could do, anyway. I had to commit my boy to God and trust that he was safer in God’s hands than he could ever be in mine.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26, 33
Do I have peace because of the lessons God has already taught me, or is it because my life is less affected? Is it possible that I am actually learning to live with faith, or is it that I have nothing to lose? I think at the end of the day, it will be clear that this pandemic is not what Tozer would call a “testing place” for me. I have had other tests: lost jobs, lost dreams, and frightening debt. I recognize that this is a trial and a test for many others. I don’t know if I have standing to encourage anyone, but I want to be able to. I can’t say anything about earthy outcomes from this situation, but the Scriptures make me confident that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18a) I suppose it is the only encouragement I can offer.