Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:32

What If This Changes Everything?

Written by
What If This Changes Everything? Jakob Owens
Like the rest of us, I don’t know what the future holds with the current crisis we face. We watch the worrying news unraveling day by day–how the coronavirus spreads, what decisions governments are making to try to contain it, the resulting economic hit. Our way of life is being and will continue to be changed.

The church and mission world is being affected big time, too. Conferences have been cancelled, mission trips and evangelistic projects are all being put on hold. I keep hearing people say, “We’ve never faced anything like this before.”

We hope and pray it will end as soon as possible, especially for those most vulnerable, be it healthwise or financially. So many have lost their jobs or can’t make money under lockdown, and have no other options. Jesus, heal our world!

But what if this changes everything? What if aspects of our lives and the way we’ve always done things will never be the same? 

Having life as we know it stop abruptly makes me reflect on what it’s been like for people in places like Syria or Yemen, facing much more severe crises, where war and famine hit them all of a sudden. I remember meeting a group of young people from Syria during the first year the conflict broke out. They came over the border to attend one of Steiger’s training events with our Beirut team. They were creative, passionate, and hopeful young people, with dreams and ideas to apply what they were learning in their own cities, to share Jesus. I can only imagine how much the war changed their plans.

Our situation does not compare in severity, but even after a small time of lockdown, we’ve all been wondering how we can still fulfil our calling if everything has changed. Daniel had to face drastic changes when he and his friends were carried away captive by the Babylonian Empire. They left behind their homes, way of life, food, and even their given names. What can we learn from the way Daniel dealt with changing circumstances? 

Daniel kept his eyes on God and stayed focused. Beyond fear and worry, Daniel wanted to be faithful to God. Part of that meant refusing to accept everything that this new context brought upon him. In many things, he adapted - like having to change his name, and learn the Babylonian language and culture. But when it came to breaking God’s law to eat food considered unclean, Daniel chose to fast instead. He also kept a focused prayer life. In Daniel chapter 2, when faced with crisis, he meets his friends for prayer. Later in chapter 6, we’re told Daniel maintained a discipline of praying three times a day, even when this was made illegal.

As a result, Daniel was in tune with God’s purpose and available to be used by Him in extraordinary ways. After a desperate prayer time with his friends, Daniel received the interpretation of king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He went on to play an influential and powerful role as advisor to four successive kings, leading two of them to publicly profess faith in the God of Israel. The later chapters of the book are full of revelation similar to Nebuchadnezzar's dream, showing God’s plan and intervention throughout history until the coming of Jesus. Some of the clearest Old Testament references to the coming of Jesus are in these visions. Daniel became an instrument in God’s hands in a crisis. He was a prominent voice on a national level in a foreign empire, and a channel for God’s revelation and influence in history. This was not his usual ministry; he had not trained for this. But he was in tune and available in times of trouble.

Daniel had a high view of God and a low view of this world. He was not impressed with crises, no matter how bad things got. God’s purpose and glory were his priority. This is so evident in Daniel’s interaction with King Belshazzar in chapter 5–the famous passage of the writing on the wall, through which God brought judgement on a king who had treated God with disregard. The king offers Daniel rich clothing, gold, and a new title for interpreting the message, to which Daniel responds, “You can keep your gifts and rewards.” Daniel has no fear of this ruler, but instead a deep reverence of the Most High God. 

Daniel faced many changes, but some things remained constant. What does it look like for us to follow Jesus in these uncertain times, whether it be for the short or long term? What things should be constant, and which ones more flexible? 

Circumstances are changing daily. It’s easy to get distracted with the news flashes and over-busy social media feeds. We can feel paralyzed with uncertainty. But God is constant. If we turn to Him, as Daniel did, maintaining discipline and focus, He will give us that peace that surpasses understanding.

Our activities and plans are changing and being cancelled. But God’s plan and purpose are constant. It is exactly at this time that our world needs people in tune with God and acutely aware of the situation. We should be proactive, ahead of the game, and readily available to be used by God. We also need the humility to be willing to serve in ways different to what we’re used to. If now’s not the time for concerts and conferences, it may instead be an occasion to help our elderly neighbours with their shopping or give blood at our local hospital. 

Lastly, if we keep a high view of God rather than being impressed with the circumstances, we will be able to stand strong and fulfill whatever duty times of trouble may require of us, bringing #HopeBeyondFear and the Gospel to a world in need.

Luke Greenwood

Luke is the Director of Steiger Europe and International Training. He has been a missionary with Steiger since 2002 and served the mission in many ways in several regions of the world.
Instagram: @steigereurope

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