I was talking to someone the other day about what it feels like navigating through 2020. As we struggled to make sense of our feelings, I started describing this scene:
Imagine a giant dump truck pours an enormous pile of garbage all over your life. The mess takes you by complete surprise — shock, even. It thrusts you into panic mode, demands to be cleaned up, and worst of all, stinks like nothing you’ve ever encountered. As you wipe the ketchup off your face and remove the rotten banana peel from your head, you compose yourself and develop a plan of action.
You begin to sort through the mess — organize it, in an effort to clean it up and move forward with your life. You even find a few treasures along the way, because everyone knows, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” As soon as you feel like you’re getting somewhere, a second dump truck unloads another pile of garbage. All you can hear is the line from a silly children’s song, “Same song, second verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse!”
Now what?! You’re so upset you can’t even think straight. So, you reach out to your friends on social media for advice. You pose a simple question and are shamed and blasted with more opinions than you can handle. Not only are you discouraged, but now you are wounded and fearful of sharing your pain with others. You are woefully reminded of the brokenness in this world. So, you pick yourself up, wipe the tuna salad off your forehead, and pray for the wisdom and endurance to navigate through the rubble.
Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds us of who we were before we found Jesus — lifeless wanderers meandering through the wreckage without hope. It paints a picture of how lost the world is without Jesus, how so many people are walking through this difficult season today:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Can you resonate with these words? In our world today, tempers are flaring, opinions are thrown around regardless of the pain they cause; it’s almost like we’re living in a battle of every man for himself. Following the course of this world will only cause more pain, division, and heartache. God has a better way and it’s revealed in Ephesians 2:4-7. Look at these words that put God’s great love for humanity on display:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
If you are struggling to find hope, remember the immeasurable riches of grace and kindness you have in Christ Jesus! Remember the price that Jesus paid because of His boundless love for you. Hebrews 2:1 implores us to “pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away.” Now is the time to cling to God’s Word. When nothing else makes sense, we must stand firm on God’s promises.
God’s Word is nothing like the pile of garbage that I described above — no, it’s vastly different. The garbage is littered with cheap imitations of treasure, but God’s Word is full of priceless gems. Instead of rummaging hopelessly through the mess, turn to Scripture and uncover the joy of the gospel. Immerse yourself in what God says, not in what the garbage declares. The garbage of this world may be louder and in your face, but God’s Word is faithful and stands the test of time.
We must live out God’s truth, not in an offensive way, but in a way that demonstrates stability and hope. This is not a faulty attempt to seem like we have it all together. Instead, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge our shortcomings and recognize that heart transformation through Jesus is the answer. Let our words and actions be a beacon of hope in this dark, broken world. As Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Good is ahead and we have the awesome privilege of being an active component in bringing that good to the rest of the world. Will you be a vessel of God’s peace and love in the midst of the chaos?