This post is by Briane Kearns.
We are living in unprecedented times. Early in 2020 a mysterious disease called COVID 19 emerged in China. Highly contagious, it spread silently and quickly until the local Chinese medical facilities were overwhelmed. Thousands died. The Chinese efforts to stop the spread were too late, and it spread around the world. Cases multiplied every day.
A word I have never used became the news headline of every day: Pandemic.
The United States has worked for months to stop the spread of the disease. Everyone but essential employees has stayed at home to prevent further spread of the virus. Businesses were forced to stop operations, and millions lost their jobs. The economy and the stock market tanked in a few short days. We remain separated from friends and family to prevent getting the virus or passing it to others.
But slowly, multiple states began reopening businesses and services. There is confusion and fear about so many areas of “normal” life. As businesses reopen, each day many of us question what activities are “safe” to resume and what activities we should continue to press “pause” for a while longer.
And just when it seemed we were on the edge of resuming some normal activities, a black man died as the result of police brutality during an arrest. In cities from the east coast to the west coast, thousands peacefully protested this horrible death. But some instigated riots at the peaceful protests. Now civil unrest has broken out across the country. In my small town, rioters looted and destroyed property in our downtown area, not far from my house.
Along with pandemic, vandalism, looting, destruction and curfew are the news headlines of each day.
So, we remain at home. But the spreading pandemic combined with spreading nationwide unrest has caused me to deeply consider the things in which I place my faith, the things that I count on for my security. What do I fear? Where do I find my security?
I am worried about those whom I love getting sick or injured in the unrest. I am worried about my son and his new bride, who live on the opposite coast. Initially they were in a hot spot of infections. A few days ago there were riots just blocks from their home. The highway my son takes to work every day was blocked and stopped cars were attacked by rioters. Every moment I have to resolve not to worry or fear, but instead to trust them both to the God who loves them even more than I do. I pray moment by moment for their protection.
I am worried about my 84 year old mother and 91 year old father in law. The experts say that they are most at risk with this disease. Again, moment by moment I must choose to trust the God I love for their care and protection. Sometimes I am embarrassed at how I have to remind myself to choose trust and faith. I feel that it should be second nature at this point in my faith journey, but instead I must intention my thoughts to trust on a daily basis.
I also fear getting sick. But if I am honest, I am even more afraid of suffering before I die. I am not afraid of dying. I have battled breast cancer twice, and death has no fear for me. I love my Lord and I know how powerfully He loves me. I know that after death I will be with Jesus, and that it will be more wonderful than the life that He has gifted me on earth. But that process between being healthy and suffering a painful death is something that I would like to avoid. Let’s just skip it.
And this is where I love Jesus so, so much. I remember Him in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest, asking others to pray with Him. I remember His prayer to His Father: “’My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Matt 26:39)
Jesus came to earth to show others what God was like. He was poised at the final moment of his earthly ministry, about to do what He had come to earth to do: redeem humanity by paying for the sins of all mankind. But to do that, He must suffer an agonizing death on the cross. He must become sin, and be separated from the Father.
In these last moments before everything unfolds, He asks His Father that, if possible, the cup of suffering would pass from Him. He knew what was required, everything that would happen to Him in his human body, and He prayed that He might not endure it, if possible. He showed His humanity.
And I love Him so for that prayer.
I love the humanity of Jesus displayed here. Have we not all thought at some point about some experience, “Father let this _______ pass from me, if possible?” Sickness. Fear. Civil unrest. Financial loss. Father, let it pass.
Today I am enfolded by the humanity of Jesus, knowing that He too dreaded something. That He too prayed, though He KNEW what the answer was. I love that our God has recorded this human moment in Jesus’ life so that we can identify with Him in moments of dread and suffering.
Of course, that cup did not pass. Jesus endured the arrest, trial, humiliation, beating and torture, and death on the cross. God answered His prayer, but the answer was not that the suffering would pass.
Jesus trusted His Father with His request. And He trusted His Father with the answer to His prayer.
Father God, let me be like Jesus. Let me pray for this situation to pass, and then wait in faith filled, trusting prayer that You have all the answers. Sometimes the prayers we pray, in trusting faith, are not answered as we hope they will be. Let me dwell in the certainty that no matter what Your answer to my prayer is, You love me. Your plan for my life is perfect. You are in control. You are sovereign over every aspect of this upside down world, just as you are over every moment of every day of my life and of eternity.
Let me dwell in faith, not fear. Amen.
Briane Pittman Kearns is a Jesus loving first born who celebrates being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and two time breast cancer survivor. Her passion is teaching others that the Bible is relevant for life today. She loves Jesus, her family, laughing with friends, encouraging women in their faith walk and being a southerner. She holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. You can find more of her words at www.BrianePittmanKearns.com.
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