I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Right now, at this very moment, you are building a life. Even during this pandemic. Even though everything seems to have come to a screeching halt. Even though it may not look anything like the life you expected to be living right now, or the one you were living a few short weeks ago.
You may think that your life is composed of the things that have happened to you, but that’s not completely accurate. Your life is composed of how you respond to the things that happen to you.
Stuff happens. Sometimes A LOT. All at once. Hard stuff like sickness, loss, grief, disappointment, physical and emotional pain, and even pandemics. But our lives are more accurately the sum of the ways in which we choose to face and scale that stuff; the ways we tackle both the good and the bad count toward the lives we are building.
Some people disregard the fact that they are building something of great value here on earth: their very life and the legacy they leave behind. Instead, they view life as a series of events of which they have no control. Almost as a victim, they traverse through the years, never stopping to take control of their thinking and how they are responding to what is being entrusted to them. It doesn’t occur to them to purposefully use their gifts, time, talents, resources, and even their hardships and triumphs for good.
Here’s a paradox. The tough stuff we’re given is a gift. The good stuff we’re entrusted with is easy to receive. It’s even easier to take for granted, and even easier still to forget to be thankful for. The COVID-19 virus has been especially good at highlighting this to us. What does it look like to unwrap this gift?
Throughout our lives, we’re entrusted with lovely and unlovely things. With either, you can choose to learn, grow, do good, and extend the hidden blessings from each. But it takes extra fortitude to grow out of the difficulties. To fight for joy in the midst of trials. To seek out peace in turmoil. To embrace love in the midst of hurt, rejection, and pain. And especially to overcome.
With the COVID-19 virus, I’m reminded of what it looks like to choose to live well despite difficulties. I’m reminded that we are building a life that matters in the midst of this stretching experience. Life hasn’t stopped. This is life right now while sheltering in place. Like any hardship, how we respond to it, traverse through it, and how we grow from it will have an impact not only on our lives but on the lives of those around us, and on the lives of generations to come.
I always tell my kids, nothing’s wasted. And that includes hardships. But I should add that nothing’s wasted unless we chose to ignore what it had to teach us. It is my hope that we will come out of this collective crisis stronger, kinder, and more resilient than when we went into it. That we would embrace its lessons and grow more patient, less entitled, and less distracted than before. That we would more fully recognize the value of close connection with family and friends than before we went in. That this time wouldn’t be wasted on us.
And I hope for one more thing. That we would look to Jesus and in doing so we would find our hope in him. That we would hand over our fear, frustration, disappointment, pain, hurt, and our very lives to the only One who can be trusted with it. In the giving over we find the very life we’ve been desperately searching for. As we move through this pandemic or anything else that comes our way, we can rest knowing God is our anchor, our comfort, and our hope.
I’ll leave you with this beautiful and poetic verse. It’s notable that the meaning of Baka in Hebrew is “to weep”. As we pass through this valley of weeping, or any other one we face, we can grow stronger and choose to keep our eyes fixed on Christ—our hope. Indeed, the life you are building profoundly matters, both now, and in eternity.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.