July 08, 2020
“I know this is the right way. That’s the store I saw. I can’t be wrong.” Those were the words I told myself eight years ago during my first mission trip to Cambodia.
We were on our way back to the Philippines, and as we passed through Vietnam, we had spare time for a quick city tour.
Since we had ample time to pick up our luggages and wait for the bus to the airport, we casually walked and didn’t mind the time. We were confident that we were taking the right path, but as we kept walking, somebody popped the question: Is this the right street?
I volunteered to run ahead and check if we were on the right street. The places looked familiar, so I ran a few meters more, but our time was running out.
Not knowing where you are evokes a lot of emotions. In my case, I felt a mixture of frustration, anger, and fear.
It was my first mission trip. My first international trip. We were running out of time to catch our flight and we didn’t know where we were. I was frustrated, angry, and afraid because I was lost.
This was what I felt when I looked back at the first months of 2020.
After seeing intense real-life dramas such as a volcanic eruption, a global pandemic, nationwide lockdowns, and a global economic recession, I asked myself: Where am I now?
Sometimes it feels like I don’t know what to feel anymore.
We’ve experienced much stress and seen much evil that many of us may have started to care less about what’s going on.
I honestly felt like that for the past four months. I realized that feeling lost will eventually lead to feeling tired. And this weariness could eventually lead to numbness.
We’re already in the middle of 2020, and the world is still spinning quickly like a top.
Will it still matter if I look back at the “lost” months?
How do I find my way back whenever I feel completely lost?
I learned an important lesson when we got lost in Vietnam: The first step in finding your way back is to admit that you are lost.
It was my twin sister who insisted that I start wearing eyeglasses because she noticed that I tend to get too close to the car in front of me whenever I drive.
I insisted that my eyes were fine, but I was actually wrong. After wearing my new glasses, I got convinced that with the right lens, I could see better and clearer.
The first half of the year was too dark and depressing to look at. But when we start to view things through the lens of humility and grace, we could see things better and clearer.
What mental images pop up in your mind whenever you try to look back at the first six months of 2020?
For me, I see images of Taal’s eruption, people wearing masks, city lockdowns, and panic buyers in the grocery stores. I also remember news of social injustices and government abuses.
It’s difficult to look back and not feel angry whenever I remember these things. I would never want to go through it again.
But viewing things through the lens of grace means accepting all the ugly and painful things that happened and acknowledging that the sovereign hand of God was at work behind the scenes.
A man in the Bible named Joseph said this after going through pain and hardships in life:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good . . .”
May you have the courage to look back long enough to see God’s hand in our situation, and may you have the confidence to say that amid the pain, suffering, and loss, God meant these things for good.
This pandemic has revealed the true condition of our hearts and the ongoing work of God in our lives.
Honestly, I have struggled with the idea of God’s ongoing work in my life. I feel guilty at times for not responding to the crisis in a way that a Christian must respond. I felt that my responses weren’t good enough for God. I should have been more prayerful, read more books, or ministered to more students.
At first I thought it was a noble act. But deep inside, it was just sinful pride. If I believe that my actions are not good enough for God then that means that I also believe that someday, by means of good works, I will be good enough for Him. I had to repent. That is not what it means to rely on His grace.
If, by looking within your heart, you start to feel more sinful, unqualified, and inadequate, you’re in the best position to receive and experience God’s grace.
Don’t give up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, humble yourself before God, for He gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
If, because of this pandemic, you see past issues coming back to the surface and your sinful nature is reacting to old habits and sinful pleasures, remember what the Apostle Paul said:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
God uses even our hardships to let us see our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
As you look within yourself in light of what you’ve been through these past six months, guard yourself from being too hard on your soul. Instead, may you experience God’s healing and grace through His ongoing work in your life.
Experts and researchers predict different timelines about when this crisis would end. Some have even predicted that it might take two to three years before the world can finally recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Hearing different predictions about what our post-COVID world would look like can make us feel hopeless and wary. If looking back was difficult to do, looking forward is even more depressing.
Yet there are days when we hope that we can fast forward to better days. We look forward to the day when the whole world has already recovered and COVID-19 is just another flu that can be prevented by a vaccine.
We may be halfway through the year, but God isn’t done yet. God created the world in seven days, imagine what he can do in the remaining months of 2020!
Our desire and confidence to keep looking forward comes from knowing God and His love for us.
As you look forward to the future, may your faith enable you to walk courageously despite the uncertainties, and may the same faith enable you to find peace in the midst uncertainties.
As we enter the second half of the year, may we slow down and spend time with God and align ourselves to His will and fulfill His purpose for our lives.
This is our confident assurance:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, declares the Lord . . . ”
Whenever you feel lost, lonely, or in need of help, you need not look very far. Seek God with all your heart, and you will find Him, along with all the things that you need.