Finding peace and purpose in turmoil
On a warm Caribbean night on December 31, 2019, I sat in a New Year’s Eve service and listened to a message the pastor felt the Lord had given him to bring his listeners into 2020. The title? “Prepare for War.” Basing his message on 1 Kings 20:1-30, and on what he believed God had spoken to his heart through a series of dreams, he conveyed the warning that we should enter 2020 prepared for spiritual battle. His central encouragement was that while God will continue opening our eyes to spiritual issues, He is on our side, and that He loves His [imperfect] people—and will be faithful to us. Whatever He does in our lives will be for His glory. His promises will remain “yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Since 2020 would be a year of battle, he urged us to remember that God is both spiritual and sovereign. We could still ask Him for anything in His name, and He would do it (John 14:14). And we could ask for more of the Holy Spirit, and He would oblige (Luke 11:13, Acts 19:2,6). In the spiritual battles being waged against the church, we would need to see clearly. Just as the blind man at Bethsaida asked Jesus to touch his eyes so that he could see, and He did (Mark 8:22,25), so God can still touch our spiritual eyes to help us see clearly in a time when great wisdom is needed. I’ve pondered those notes and Scriptures time and again since then.
The long-awaited year of 2020 keeps racing forward with daily developments and troubling news for our hearts and heads to digest. We’re all still finding our bearings spiritually, relationally, physically and financially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario and Quebec have been particularly hard hit, and many of us are mourning its devastating impact on the Canadian seniors living in our long-term care and nursing homes, where at least 82 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths in our nation may have occurred.
A national tragedy hit our family in Nova Scotia, with the murder of 22 victims by a gunman pretending to be an RCMP officer, leaving already distressed communities with unimaginable additional trauma and loss to process. Carrying these and other pandemic-related burdens, many members of our Fellowship connected for our first online-only General Conference, where David Wells was joyfully re-elected as our general superintendent. Just three weeks later, we faced another defining moment—the murder of George Floyd in police custody. The horror of those few minutes caught on video camera evoked strong reactions from millions of people in the United States, Canada and internationally, bringing attention to similar issues in our respective nations.
Stretched to our emotional limits, there is a renewed sense of urgency that we hear and act on what the Spirit is speaking to us in this season. Although painful, that is a strategic place to be. A place of dependence, knowing that we need God to deliver and guide us into deeper intimacy with Jesus and with one another. A place of needing to refocus on the foundations of our faith—and successfully engage in a spiritual battle that has been more intense than most of us have collectively known.
There are tremendous opportunities all around us. Vulnerable people who have felt forgotten, under-served or abused have now come into focus. Cross-cultural relationships that lacked depth and mutual understanding now have a chance to grow in authenticity and love. The nation faces spiritual need as never before.
In our pursuit of God’s comfort, may He lead us more deeply into His heart. May He then also lead us into deeper love and concern for our neighbour, and more engaged in many of the issues that have now come to the forefront—and may we receive the strength, courage and wisdom we need from Him to move forward.
This article appeared in the July/August/September 2020 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2020 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.