God is love. Everything he does in our lives is out of love for us. God is also holy and just, which means “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:10, 11). God wants to bring about holiness, righteousness and peace in our lives through the painful discipline he brings into our lives. God disciplines us out of his love for us.
In my previous article “The Blatant Truth”, I related our present pandemic to God’s judgment upon our nation and our world. No one likes to hear about the discipline, the correction or the judgment of God. It is necessary, however, to turning our nation back to God. As I mentioned before, there is a cost associated with our rebellion and sin. The cost that I am referring to are the consequences of sin and God’s judgment is a consequence of sin.
I think that we have all experienced God’s correction, God’s discipline, God’s “judgment” in our lives by having to experience the consequences of our sin even though we have been forgiven of our sin. That consequence can come in the form of something resulting from the sin itself or God himself bringing the consequence through correction, discipline or judgment. It’s no different for us as a nation. This pandemic is not the only evidence of God’s judgment on our nation. As a nation we have also experienced numerous calamities and natural disasters. As I write this, just this past week on one particular day, there was a tornado and an earthquake that is basically unheard of in this part of the country where I live. This pandemic is different in the fact that it is much more far reaching. Not only is it far reaching globally, not only is it impacting every life of every city of every state; it is also affecting our work, our children, our schools, our businesses, our economy, our relationships, our personal finances, etc. It is all inclusive. There is not a single person whose life that COVID-19 has not affected.
While we are in the middle of this crisis, I would like to address the “shaking” that is taking place in our lives right now and what I believe God is going to do at some point and time in the future following this pandemic.
There is a principle in God’s Word that applies to us today. That principle is, “Suffering precedes God’s blessing”. We see this principle explained and exemplified in the Old and New Testament. Following Job’s suffering, God blessed him with twice as much than he had before even though his suffering was not due to sin. We are also told that we share in his sufferings in order that we might also share in his glory (Rom. 8:17). I believe that to be true in this life as well as in heaven. When Jesus began his public ministry, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, but that was preceded by 40 days of living in the desert being tempted by the devil. We know that Jesus’ temptation was a time of suffering (Heb. 2:18). Joseph suffered in prison before becoming the governor of Egypt. Not all suffering is due to sin, of course, but suffering, trials, temptations and testing precedes the blessing of God, no matter what that blessing looks like or the reason for the suffering.
There is also another principle at work here: “Repentance precedes revival resulting in renewed life in the Church and the conversion of the lost”. There are two things that need to take place in our country and our world today. We need to see a revival in the Church and a spiritual awakening among the lost. I believe those two things can take place simultaneously. When revival comes to the church, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is manifested and the lost are convicted of their sin and convinced of their need of a Savior. It begins, though, with a “cleansing” that God needs to do in his Church. What does that cleansing look like?
The plagues that God brought upon Egypt was his “judgment on their gods” (Num. 33:4). God’s judgment upon us is his judgment upon our ‘gods’ as well. Let me give you some examples. God has taken away the ‘god’ of entertainment as a result of this virus. We can no longer attend or even view on television a live sporting event or concert or any other form of entertainment of any kind because they are not even taking place. For many people, the church has been a place of entertainment. We go for a concert that we call worship and expect the pastor to make us laugh and feel good. As the Church, we’ve also relied upon our own ingenuity, creativity, technology, programs, personalities and charisma rather than the Spirit of God to build his Church. So, God took away our ability to attend church. What would we do if we didn’t live in a day and age where we could “go” to church online or receive any other kind of teaching through today’s technology? How many “Christians” would depart from their faith because they don’t know how to feed themselves? Maybe we need technology taken away from us too so that we learn how to seek the face of God in prayer and his Word rather than relying on the Church to constantly feed us. For many of us, our ‘god’ has been our work or our financial security, so God has taken that away from us as well. We’ve removed God from our schools while our legislators have voted in the vilest sex education among our youngest of children, so God took school away by removing the children from school. God is dealing with our sin as well as the idols we have set up in our lives. Why? So that we will deal with our sin and redirect our attention and dependence solely upon him.
God’s judgement upon our nation and our world is the consequence of our sin. God uses those consequences to turn us back to him in true repentance. This is the place and time in our lives where we need to fall on our knees in repentance, both individually and corporately as the Church. While God is bringing his judgment upon us nationally and globally, he’s calling us, his Church, to humble ourselves and pray; to seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, to turn from our idols, to rely totally on him. It’s then that God will heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14). It’s then that God will bring about a revival among his people and a spiritual awakening in our country. If anyone is still questioning God’s hand in this, you just need to read the preceding verse where God takes responsibility for calamities such as sending a plague among his people (v. 13).
I’m not looking for life to return to “normal” following this pandemic. I’m looking for a new work and wave of the Holy Spirit to sweep through our land. That is why God is doing what he is doing. He is shaking our lives to the very core. He is shaking our country. He is shaking our world. He is shaking to bring an awakening. When Jesus, Peter, John and James were on the mountain and Jesus was being transfigured before them, the disciples were “very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his (Jesus’) glory…” (Luke 9:32). Did you catch that? It was after they became fully awake that they saw the glory of God displayed before them. The purpose of this “shaking” that is taking place right now is to awaken us from our spiritual sleep and sin because we are about to see the glory of God displayed. Don’t miss what they were doing on the mountain in the first place; they were praying (v. 28, 29). The “Awakening” is really two-fold. The Church needs to be awakened from being asleep in the light so that the world can be awakened to see the light. That’s only going to happen because of our prayer and repentance.
We are suffering the consequences of our sin, but God is preparing us for what I call, a “Breakthrough in the Spirit”. So, let’s get ready Church. Let’s get serious about our sin and seek the face of God. It’s time for the Church to awaken from our spiritual slumber and repent of our sins. God is going to bring breakthrough and we will see the glory of God displayed in our lives and in our country when we do. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but God does. I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like (although I have a vision for what it will include). I just know that breakthrough is coming and when it does, your life, the Church and this country will not be the same!