Shaking and Testing, by Ron Conkling
So much has happened in 2020, and with each impact a question that I hear over and over again is, “What is God doing?” I think the short answer is: what he is always doing, working to bring us closer to him. But these times feel different, and a scripture that comes to mind is from the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV 1984) 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
I think it would be apt to say that God is shaking many of the things that are perishable in the world and causing many to consider more deeply the imperishable. The pandemic has shaken our idols of secure health and entitlement to a “normal” life. The financial crisis shook our idols of wealth, career, and esteem from possessions. The racial tensions caused a shaking of the idol of status quo and is causing us all to face hard truths about what has been lacking in our interracial relationships.
All of this shaking has revealed what the world, individuals, and Christians are holding on to. Christians should be the most prepared for times like this, but God knows that we also need refining, lest the ways of the world creep to the forefront of our lives. Consider this passage in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NIV 1984) 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Clearly, what Christians have built in their lives will be tested. Have we built on the perishable, that will be consumed by the fire, or the imperishable, which passes through the flames untouched? Has this shaking revealed cracks in your walk with God, your marriage and parenting, your ability to love your enemy, your compassion for others, your choices with your time, or where you have put your hope?
Is this time of shaking and testing hard? For sure! But it's also so good, we get to see who we are when the heat is on. We can be encouraged by our victories and convicted by our shortcomings and determined to repent.
Now is the time to see where we need to mature in our walk with God, so that we can be men and women who are pleasing to God, and we can be the people that make a change in this world for the better. We can prepare for whatever trials come our way in the future. And we will be better at helping our children, our spouses, our parents, and our friends live the life God so desires for us!
Shaken and tested by fire? Yes. Defeated and hopeless? Oh no! God is ready to move us forward through this time to a place of ever-increasing maturity and faith. Times of crisis are the times of a Christian’s most significant opportunities to shine and grow, and to make the biggest difference in this life and the life to come on the other side. Let’s make the most of these days by seeing where God is taking us.