Politico listed listed thirty four ways the world could/would change from less polarization to more telemedicine to big government making a comeback to worship looking different. The New York Times discussed the world doing science together and The Guardian, published “‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?” The introduction to the article in The Guardian says,
Times of upheaval are always times of radical change. Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future. Others fear it may only make existing injustices worse.
Will the optimists or the pessimists be correct? It’s anyone’s guess. I suspect it will be a little bit of both.
If we could see the “before” and “after” of human hearts, however, I’m sure there will be dramatic change.
God is always changing the world by changing individuals’ hearts.
Believers call it spiritual transformation or becoming more spiritually mature as every Christian slowly becomes more like their Savior. Some people have dramatic experiences while others notice changes over time, but we all change, and it is often brought about by challenges, trials and difficulties. This pandemic qualifies.
The results of spiritual transformation aren’t always, or even often, immediately visible, but they are far-reaching. Imagine that a chemist working on a vaccine for this nasty virus had been a gifted but disenchanted college student. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, and her relationship with her parents was, at best, strained, so she thought about dropping out of school and moving across the country. A friend of hers invited her to attend church with her, and she wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but she figured, why not? That day in church she understood something true and loving about God, she got a sense of his power beyond this world, and she was intrigued. She learned more about Jesus, never did drop out of school and went on to do great things.
Of course, that’s a fabricated example, but I believe that sort of transformation happens all the time. We just can’t see it.
One way in which God spiritually transforms people is through crises.
And we’re all facing a crisis now.
Are you praying more than usual? You may have cracked open your Bible for the first time in a while looking for some comfort, peace and/or assurance. Do you feel like Jacob, wrestling with God?
These are opportunities for transformation. Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich, in The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, write about hitting the Wall, a stage of faith that most of us bump into at some point.
Fundamentally, it has to do with slowly breaking through the barriers we have built between our will and a new awareness of God in our lives. We have spent our own energy; we have come to the end of our ropes. We are ready to learn about freedom – the liberty of living without grasping. p. 115
Jacob wrestled with God all night and at daybreak he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I’ve always thought that a rather presumptuous statement, but God did change his name to Israel and he blessed him. Jacob then called the place Peniel and said,
It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared. v. 30
In a crisis we come face to face with God, and we must decide whether we will insist on our will being done or submit to God’s will. We might wrestle a while. Some wrestle for years. When we submit, it’s a giant step forward in the transformation process.
Michelle Van Loon, in Becoming Sage: Cultivating Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality in Midlife, (a book that I highly recommend, by the way) writes,
A sage lives (sometimes uncomfortably) in the tension between two seemingly disparate truths. The first is that God is neither cruel nor powerless. The second is that God is under no obligation to reveal his purposes to us. When there are no explanations, nor any relief when we are faced with suffering, we are presented with the hour-by-hour choice to trust the One who suffered for us and stands with us in our anguish. p. 182
Will we trust God hour-by-hour? That is the question many of us are wrestling with.
I pray that this would be a time of powerful spiritual transformation.