Bob (not his real name) is deathly afraid of flying. Years ago, while onboard a plane that was about to leave its gate to taxi toward the runway, he had a panic attack and had to get off the plane. That day, something changed in him. He was so shaken by the experience that he felt compelled to start living his life differently. Interestingly, he decided that he wanted to begin volunteering somewhere. Somehow, that frightful experience made him want to make a greater contribution with his life.
But then life got back to normal. As that seemingly life changing experience faded into ordinary life, he forgot all about his compelling vision to begin serving somewhere.
I think most of us can relate to that. We’ve probably all gone through something very scary that made us think in new ways and see changes we want to make. But as we got further from that experience, as life got back to normal, our commitment to change faded and everything stayed pretty much the same.
Opportunity in adversity
I’ve been thinking about this in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it described as “unprecedented” or “once-in-a-lifetime,” well, I’d have a lot of nickels. But it’s true. None of us are likely to ever again experience a global crisis that grinds business to a halt, tanks the stock market, and puts us on lockdown.
A good question to be asking right now is what changes will we make as a result? What lessons can we learn from all of this?
Once life gets back to normal, and I’m confident it will eventually get back to normal for most of us, will anything about us have changed?
Think about your financial situation. Financially speaking, what has scared you the most about the pandemic? Are you worried about losing your job? Do you wish you had more money in savings? An investment plan to guide you through all the market turmoil? Less debt?
If you’re hurting right now, the last thing I want to do is pile on. It’s just that I feel very confident that we will get through this, and I hope that none of us will miss the opportunity to learn from it.
Inspiration in Scripture
The apostle Paul gave us a vivid example of praying for deliverance from some type of suffering only to see God’s greater purpose for it.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I remember reading those verses as a new Christian when I was in my late 20s. Deep in debt and often discouraged at how long it was going to take to get out of debt, I had prayed many times for God’s intervention. But when I read those words it was as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I began to see a larger purpose for my debt. It was teaching me to depend on God and draw close to Him.
And then there are these familiar verses about life’s challenges:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
Those words are not for anyone who has lost a loved one because of the pandemic. If that’s your situation, know that there are countless people, including my family, praying every night for healing, strength, and comfort for those most directly impacted by this crisis.
But I think those words are for most of us who are facing other types of trials as a result of the pandemic right now.
We can take heart that God has a purpose for us, a work He wants to do in us and through us. But what? That’s for you to discern. My encouragement is to try to do so before life begins to return to normal.
Take it to heart: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Take action: Write down a couple of lessons you are learning through this crisis, things you want to change, financially or otherwise. And then tell someone about the changes you intend to make. Ask for their accountability as you go about making those changes.
Read more: The Opportunity of a Lifetime