Sanctification in Strange and Mundane Days

We’re all missing out on a lot during this pandemic. Long-planned holidays are cancelled. Milestone birthdays are going by without celebrating with loved ones. Grandparents don’t get to hug their grandchildren who were already growing up too fast.

Once the domain of teenagers scrolling Instagram on a Saturday night, FOMO has become a daily reality for us all. I’ve experienced a particular trigger for FOMO that has surprised me: I fear missing out on sanctification.

Contrary to most predictions, the curve has actually flattened in Australia. We’re only getting a small number of new cases each day. There’s talk of easing restrictions in the next few weeks. Of course that would be wonderful—I’d love to see friends again, gather with my church, and go for a long drive. I’m thankful we’re not facing the horrible situation that so many other countries are in. But at the same time, I can’t help wishing that it would go on  a little longer. And not just because I love getting to stay at home.

There’s so much more I want God to do in my own heart, as well as in my church and the wider world. When the pandemic started I had all these ideas about how I might redeem this time. I’d anticipated months of being forced to stay at home, with lots of time to spend in the Word and read good books. I mentally compiled a reading list with old Puritan books, great literature like The Lord of the Rings, and some WWII history books. Everyone has been making parallels to wartime lately, so I figured I’d see what I could learn by looking back.

With the extra time, the upheaval of normal routines, the fear and uncertainty, it seemed like the perfect recipe for sanctification—maybe even revival. I had my specific ideas of how this terrible situation would lead to good. Now that it’s looking like the worst is over in our country, I’m left fretting that I haven’t used my time well enough. What if I don’t learn the right lessons? What if I haven’t been deprived of enough to shake my pride and idolatry?

But God is bigger than my plans. He is wiser, more powerful, and more committed to my holiness than I am. I can cling to the promises in these famous verses:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30)

He works all things for good. He doesn’t give me the ingredients and expect me to whip them up into something appetizing. God has promised to mould me into the image of his Son, and he will do it by whatever circumstances he sees fit.

I’ll still seek to use this time well. I should invest in Bible reading and prayer and good books. There are great opportunities to encourage the people in my church, and proclaim to unbelievers the hope I have in Jesus. I’ll keep praying that God will use these extraordinary times for his glory. After all, these restrictions could end up going for much longer. We don’t know what the long-term ramifications will be for Australian society.

But whatever happens, I can trust God with my soul and those of the people around me. There’s no need for FOMO. It’s not up to me to seize the day, lest I miss out on holiness. It’s not up to me at all. Whether in these strange times or in the mundane days of my ordinary life, God will fulfill his purposes for me.

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