Change isn’t easy.
I can’t even begin to count how many times we’ve said that phrase over the last eight months at World Relief. When I think back to March, when our offices across the globe began closing their doors due to shelter-in-place orders, it feels like another lifetime entirely.
Like many of you, we felt the blow of loss and the weight of uncertainty as the virus made its way around the globe. We prayed, we grieved, we sought reason to hope, and together, we leaned in to ask God what he might have for us in the midst of all the disruption.
Just when we thought we might be able to adjust to these new pandemic realities, the tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd made national headlines. Calls for justice and reform swept across our nation in ways we haven’t experienced in many years. Faced with these current realities, I found myself evaluating my own blindspots in the fight for racial justice, lamenting the health of our nation and the division that continues today.
2020 has indeed ushered us into new levels of difficulty and uncertainty.
When we consider the enormity of these disruptions, the weight and even powerlessness found in this chaotic year, it can be difficult to access the spiritual energy we need to be a positive agent for change.
Many of us want to be part of the change, but are so drained we cannot carry it out. In the midst of this weariness and confusion, we may be tempted to turn away, to throw up our hands and say, “There’s just no use! Nothing I do will matter anyway.”
Others of us may be tempted to rush back to what feels normal — to prematurely begin putting our lives back together so things can get on just the way they were. But might there be another way?
Perhaps true peace and true change comes not in avoiding the weight of disruption or scrambling back to an old sense of normal, but in accessing the divine resources God has for us once our human store has run out.
King David spoke to this often in the Psalms as he cried out to God for renewal. David — a man familiar with life’s rapid and sometimes painful changes — did not shy away from his discomfort. Instead, he faced it, bringing it honestly to God.
In the opening verses of Psalm 69, David wrote:
“Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.”
He continues in verse 16:
“Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.”
Like David, we are invited to cry out to God in this same way, laying our fear, our confusion, our anger and even our own shortcomings at his feet. It is only when we are able to name all that we carry and fully surrender it to God, that we are able to move through change, grieve our losses and make something new on the other side.
At World Relief, we recognize the gravity of this year’s change and understand that the months ahead contain challenge and uncertainty of their own, and we are also convinced that God has something good for us in the midst of change.
In fact, when we are able to tap into the divine strength found in God, we may even find that we were made for change. We were made for growth. We were made for renewal. And we were made to bring that redemption to a broken, hurting world.
With this in mind, our team has worked diligently to create a resource to help you reflect and move through the immense amounts of change we’ve experienced. It’s called Monday Meditations.
Starting on October 19th, this six-part audio series will be delivered to your inbox bi-weekly.
I hope you’ll join us in this series as we use scripture to reflect on and embrace change, discovering what it means for each of us to lean in, look forward and reimagine a hopeful future together.
Already signed up? Text this link to a friend and invite them to join you.
Scott Arbeiter is a former pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and the president of World Relief, which is a subsidiary of the National Association of Evangelicals.