Life on hold? No!
Our business is not to wait in frustration, drumming our fingers and wanting to “get on with our lives”, but to ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?" By Colin Sedgwick
“I just want to get on with my life!… It’s so frustrating when everything’s on hold…”
Have you found yourself saying – or just thinking – something like that recently? I’m referring to the coronavirus pandemic, of course. Quite apart from the great sadness of premature and unexpected deaths, and all the fear and uncertainty, it’s just so frustrating. Oh to get back to normal!
I certainly find myself thinking this way. But then I know I must take myself in hand… No! The idea that life is “on hold”, as if someone has pressed the pause button and all we can do is sit and wait for things to start running again, is wrong.
It’s as if life – real life – consists of just two parts: there’s the stuff I have to do simply in order to keep going – work, earning a living, looking after home and family, and all the normal everyday chores and duties; and there’s the stuff I like to do for leisure and enjoyment. Anything else is an intrusion, an interference that I am entitled to resent.
But no. We have never been promised an easy ride, and in reality anything that life, for whatever reason, throws at us, is still part and parcel of life as a whole.
If we are Christians we believe that our lives are in the hands of the God who is our loving heavenly Father. And this means that whatever happens to us will one day be woven into a bigger, wider picture which at the moment is hidden from us. And this, in turn, means that it is our responsibility to view these things, however unwelcome, in as positive a light as we possibly can. As the saying goes: every problem is an opportunity if only we can see it right.
Think of Esther…
Esther was an ordinary Jewish girl. She lived among her people under Persian domination nearly 500 years before Christ. We don’t know what life was like for the Jews at that time, but there are indications that it wasn’t too bad.
But a crisis arose. Xerxes, the king, fell out with his queen, Vashti, and decided to replace her. Esther, who was exceptionally beautiful, ended up being chosen as the new queen. Xerxes wasn’t aware she was Jewish – but a top official called Haman was, and he had a bitter grudge against the Jews. Especially, he hated Esther’s older male cousin and guardian Mordecai, who had acted to scotch a plot on Xerxes’ life. Cutting the story short, Haman poisoned Xerxes’ mind against the Jews – and got him to sign a decree that all the Jews were to be “destroyed, killed and annihilated” (Esther 3:13).
If we think the present pandemic is bad (and it certainly is), imagine how this news must have terrified the Jewish people.
But Mordecai has an idea: he tells Esther that, even though it might cost her her life (and that was a real possibility: this kind of marriage didn’t have much to do with love), she must go to the king, expose what Haman is up to, and plead for the decree to be overturned.
In case Esther is reluctant, Mordecai points out that if she does nothing she will die anyway with the rest of her people, so she might as well take the risk. And then he produces his clinching argument: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
As if to say, “Esther, it’s no coincidence that you were gifted with great beauty… that Vashti fell out of the king’s favour at just the point she did… that I was around at a time to do King Xerxes a significant service… that you now are in prime position to bring about the rescue of your people… No! God’s hand is in this… and, Esther, he has a job for you to do”.
Is it ridiculous to compare a threatened mass slaughter in the ancient world with a horrible virus threatening the lives of millions today? I don’t think so.
True, none of us can do anything remotely as dramatic as what Esther was able to do. But in principle there is no difference; we too have our role to play; we’re not marking time; God has a purpose for us too.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet told his friend Horatio: “… there’s a divinity that shapes our ends,/ Rough-hew them how we will…” Yes! And that “divinity” is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So our business is not to wait in frustration, drumming our fingers and wanting to “get on with our lives”, but to ask him: “Lord, what do you want me to do? You have blessed me greatly. Now, how can I myself be a blessing to others? Please show me what good I can do, however slight it may seem”.
And then get on and do it.
Loving Father, I don’t want to treat these difficult days as just an interruption in my “normal” life. No, I want to use them as fully as I can for the good of others and for your glory. Please show me how. Amen.
Colin Sedgwick is a Baptist minister with many years’ experience in the ministry.
He is also a freelance journalist, and has written for The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, and various Christian publications. He blogs at sedgonline.wordpress.com
Image | Jeremy Yap | Freely
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