Lament and Repent

As much as people have been panicking lately, we have seen acts of incredible kindness of generosity. It is a silver lining of crisis. Unfortunately, we have also seen some of the worst of human behaviour.

I think this says a lot about humanity – and how pandemics can pull the curtain back on our true nature.

Times of crisis have ways of showing us who we really are. Crisis shows us the illusions of safety we have built up. It reveals where our trust really lies. It shines a spotlight on the idols of our hearts, convicting us of the false gods we have worshiped.

I don’t know about you, but I have seen some spotlighted idols recently.

I have seen spotlighted idols recently.

We have worshiped the god of money. We have relied on bank accounts, investments and job security to provide for our needs. We have trusted in the dollar more than in God’s divine provision.

We have worshiped the god of relationships. We have depended on friends, family and partners to entertain and distract us from boredom and loneliness. We have turned to others before turning to God.

We have worshiped at the shrine of ministry. We have played a game of keeping busy at church, putting on a show of serving so others will think highly of us. We have served gods of ego and pride. We have used ministry to distract from our own walk with God.

Crises such as this pandemic are opportune times to address our idols. It is a time for repentance, for returning to our first love for God.

It is a time for returning to our first love.

Along with repentance comes lament. Many of us are grieving at this time. We have lost loved ones, freedom, independence, jobs, travel, money, security, predictability and closeness. We are losing our idols. Lament is hitting hard. It hurts, but it can also show us where our faith really lies.

I am told that gold, while being refined in fire, gives up its impurities. They come to the surface until the gold is pure. A pandemic can be like a refiner’s fire, bringing our fears and flaws and false idols to the light.

So here’s a question. In the midst of the refiner’s fire, to whom or what do you turn for help?

In the face of lament, the person or thing I turn to is the source of my faith. If tragedy genuinely turns my heart in God’s direction, that is the beginning of faith. That is the tiny mustard seed. That is the genesis, a return to where it all began. And where it can begin again.

If tragedy turns my heart in God’s direction, that is the beginning of faith.

The act of lament does not mean we lack faith. Far from it. It is cry for help from the only one who can save us. Through lament, we are becoming reliant on God again, learning afresh about his grace. Only his grace can see us through.

At this time, may we come to know the sufficiency of God’s grace more than ever.

What losses have you been lamenting? What idols are coming to light? Have you seen evidence of God’s grace in your life? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.

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