I ran across a funny video this morning on Instagram where a girl performed parody reenactments of the fear-mongering videos made by scared people with their “revelations from the Lord” about the coronavirus and the caption read, “Is it any coincidence that the government made everyone stay home RIGHT as ‘Conspiracy Theory Carla’ connected some dots?”
It’s funny because it’s true. I’ll never forget how many videos and articles were released during our first week of quarantine, either speculating about what God was doing or claiming prophetic authority about their revelations. Listen, I have truly loved seeing the gifts of the Spirit embraced over the last few years and have loved seeing how the Lord has grown them in my own life as I’ve learned to surrender to his Spirit. But the issue is, we have to translate spiritual insight through the health of our soul, and when we are fearful, our lenses can get foggy. When we are stuck in fear, we tend to project our fear onto others and claim it as gospel truth, in order to feel validated in our fears. But when our fears come into the presence of perfect love, the fog they carried with them seems to clear in the midst of his peace.
As our time in quarantine has lengthened and as we’ve had time to sit with our angst, less of these revelations, insights, and people claiming to have some sort of spiritual understanding have been shared with the masses. Maybe it’s because we don’t even know what day it is anymore, let alone have any inkling of insight into the future. Or maybe our hearts have traveled the natural continuum from angst in the midst of uncertainty to the calm of the new normal. As miraculous as our brains are, it is very difficult for us to accept missing links or uncertainty in stories, particularly when we don’t know the way the story will pan out or how we will be affected by the things we don’t yet know.
Shame researcher and vulnerability expert, Brené Brown, writes in Rising Strong:
“We’re wired for story and in the absence of data we will rely on confabulations and conspiracies. When our children sense something is wrong—maybe a sick grandparent or a financial worry—or when they know something is wrong—an argument or a work crisis—they quickly jump to filling in the missing pieces of the story. And because our well-being is directly tied to their sense of safety, fear sets in and often dictates the story. It’s important that we give them as much information as is appropriate for their developmental and emotional capacity, and that we provide a safe place for them to ask questions. Emotions are contagious and when we’re stressed or anxious or afraid our children can be quickly engulfed in the same emotions.”
This is not just true for children, but also for adults who have suffered some level of emotional or physical trauma.
As we walk this uncertain road towards an uncertain future, it is vital we understand that our Heavenly Father is fully revealed in the person of Christ Jesus, who chooses to suffer with his creation, with his kids. It’s okay to trade “knowing all the answers” for admitting we are scared, seeking help, and leaning on God. In Christ we find that God is the safest place on the planet to come with our doubts and fears. We find that his love is stronger than death, and that he never leaves us to suffer alone.
When the disciples asked Jesus just before his ascension into heaven if he was going to “restore the kingdom to Israel,” Jesus told them that it was not for them to know the times or seasons that the Father had set, but that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. They asked for an answer, and he basically told them to get comfortable with uncertainty.
In the show notes for episode 3 of the Commoner’s Communion podcast titled Mystery, Strahan Coleman writes,
“We don’t often celebrate the beauty of not-knowing in our walk with God, but if he truly is Spirit, truly the God of all existence, then embracing mystery is foundational to our walking with him. God is not always interested in telling us the why of what we’re going through, because in the tension between our longing and our lack he’s making his goodness all the more satisfying to us.”
In the absence of certainty, the liminal space between what we once knew and the unknown future that lies ahead, we eventually find that the presence of God is more certain than anything we could long for. In our intimate honesty with the God who calls us his treasure, we find the One worth trusting.
Comfort in the midst of our questions is offered to us by the Comforter himself. I love reading prayers from the Early Church and one of my favorites, titled Oh Heavenly King, reads, “Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, Treasury of Goodness and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from every stain of sin and save our souls, O Gracious Lord.” Throughout my life, I’ve found that it is when I am most uncomfortable that I am able to allow myself to be comforted by the nearness and tenderness of God.
It is God’s greatest joy to comfort us in our questioning and suffering because he is our wonderfully loving, all-knowing, exuberantly gentle Father. Though he has the power to put an end to this virus in the blink of an eye and will someday redeem all he allows, he also knows what we need more than we know what we need. Maybe what we need right now is to know that ours is a God who hurts when we hurt and chooses to commune with us in our suffering as though the pain was his very own.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)