As 2020 inches closer to its end many are hoping a new year will bring us a “more normal” life again. No matter who we are or where we live. whether we experienced the virus creating the pandemic or lived in its shadow, all of us have been touched by it in some way. Article after article has spoken about the fear that has wrapped around our minds and hearts as a result and for that we long for relief.
But it hasn’t just been the pandemic or its shadow haunting our steps and decisions, all the other things life can throw at us still happened – financial challenges, accidents, unexpected health problems, academic challenges, family estrangement, and the list could go on much longer.
The result has been a marked awareness of feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability is something we all live with, but when life is fairly “normal” we don’t think much about it.
Vulnerability is defined as “the quality or state if being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
Maybe the challenge we face is that we forget that we live with vulnerability ALL the time to varying degrees, but when a major event occurs and it spikes on top of that fear or anxiety gets added and we can feel overwhelmed, uncertain of how to feel safer again. We don’t like to feel weakened in any way, but we often find scripture that reminds us the Lord knows well that we will do so.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”Isaiah 40;29 (NIV)
Consider that humankind has experienced vulnerability to disease and all manner of evil since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden for their lack of obedience. It wasn’t supposed to be this way for God’s creation.
And we have a problem when and if we recognize evil exists in the world. We either ignore it and give it no credit or we cower in its presence.
“We underestimate God and we overestimate evil. We don’t see what God is doing and conclude that he is doing nothing. We see everything that evil is doing and think it is in control of everyone.”Eugene Peterson in Run With the Horses
If we are to live in this world as fallible, vulnerable, often frail humans, it will be necessary to live with the truth that we cannot control most of the things that come at us from all directions. We do have a champion to be with us and watch over us and walk through this life, but it will require us doing what C. S. Lewis has said – turning our whole self to Him – and knowing He is good.
God’s goodness does not mean we will be spared these things that come at us, but that He will never leave us. If we are his, we are often reminded by scripture and sermons that we live on this earth as “resident aliens” who reside at a particular place on this planet while knowing that our real home is another kingdom.
Jesus reminded his disciples of that before He was crucified and ascended into heaven. See how his disciple, John, records his words:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16;33 (NIV)
Scripture tells us that as the time for Christ’s return draws nearer, evil will grow and things will appear dark indeed, but until then his light shines in us and we are to be resident aliens keenly aware of our purposes and calling.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)
Eugene Peterson puts forth the challenge this way:
“For if we are going to live in God’s image, alive to all that is God, open and responsive to all he is doing, we must trust in his word, trust what we do not see. And if we are going to live in the world, attentive to each particularity, loving it through all the bad times without being repelled by it or afraid of it or conformed to it, we are going to have to face its immense evil, but know at the same time that it is limited and controlled evil.”From Run With the Horse
And that is not control through the fragility of humankind, but limited and controlled by the One who created all of us and the world we live in. We must also grapple with the reality that we cannot wholly rid the world of evil or make people good by doing so. Only God is good and to the degree that we allow Him to govern our lives, his goodness can shine through us.
For those who yield themselves to the evil that opposes God, he rules over them and release can only come by turning to God for his transformation and deliverance. He is the only One capable of changing the inner heart of any man or woman.
In the midst of our vulnerability and uncertainty about what tomorrow holds or even the rest of today, God says “I am here, and I am enough.” And as we feel alone in the midst, He reminds us that He will never leave us or forsake us. And when we grow weary of what shadows us and would seek to have us fall prey to despair, He says “I am with you to the end.”