I keep thinking of the power of having true moments of confession and repentance. It’s a beautiful thing; it’s not a shameful or condemning experience. I often ask younger women who feel far from God or troubled in their souls this simple question: Is there anything in your life that doesn’t please God? It’s an invitation for the Holy Spirit to do the white-hot work of conviction in the soul. And this is a radical form of joy–the best kind I know. Because of Jesus, we don’t stand under condemnation, so we receive forgiveness and cleansing. We enact 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
What I’ve noticed about the COVID-19 world I’m in is how it reveals our true nature. We’re stripped down with none of the regular comforts or activities. We find ourselves alone with ourselves and increasingly helpless, dependent, and fearful. Some of us move into anger, controlling behaviors, cynicism, and despair. This morning I looked at 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 as Paul writes about a moment in his own life that sounds like what so many experience today:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. . .
I think about being in situations that feel “far beyond our ability to endure” and people around us in despair. I’m amazed at Paul’s rather simple (but ultimately profound) explanation: this happened so we would rely on God not ourselves.
So we would rely on God. On God we have set our hope.
This is something to talk to God about. How have I relied on other things? On whom or what have I set my hope besides Jesus? I believe we might see a great turning toward God as the systems we rely on fail. I believe we might see more and more of our own weaknesses. It’s a kindness of God because as Paul David Tripp writes, these situations cause us to “humbly run to God for the help that only he can give.” He ends his thoughts on feeling discouraged today with this powerful statement: “So your weaknesses are not the big danger you should fear. What you should really fear are your delusions of strength. . . Paul actually celebrated his weaknesses, because as he did, the power of God rested upon him.”
On Good Friday, I think about Jesus carrying our sin on the cross. I think about what it means to exchange my sin for His forgiveness, my weakness for His strength, and my fear for His power and control of all things. It takes a humble heart. Why not receive these things today? It’s a good day to do so. It’s a good day to take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to the kind of repentance that makes Easter mean more than ever before in our lives.