On this last day of an extraordinarily challenging year, have you found yourself looking back and looking forward? While you’re at it, how about also looking upward and inward? With every hardship that comes our way, we get to ask, “How does God want to use this to shape me and mold me into the image of Christ?”
For many of us, 2020 has revealed an idol of control — we have an inordinate love for our agenda, for things to go according to our plans. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with goals and plans, how do you know if something has become too important? If we’re willing to sin to get it, or find ourself sinning if we don’t get it — that’s the light on the dashboard telling us that we’ve elevated that goal as more important than loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. Moreover, it reveals a level of unbelief in God’s good plan for us.
So how do we re-train our brain in such tumultuous times? For easy recall, let’s use the acronym VACCINE to enumerate some key points. Note that each relates to a verse from Hebrews 12, an essential chapter in letting hard things work for our good.
V — Veto resentment and despair — in humility, tell God you aim to trust him in the painful season.
A — Accept that the hardship is evidence of our Heavenly Father’s perfect love, wisdom and power for us.
C — Consider Jesus, who endured the worst circumstances possible to reconcile us with God.
C — Cherish the joy and freedom of being set free from idols.
I — Imagine the end result: a harvest of righteousness and peace, if you’ve allowed the hardship to train you.
N — No root of bitterness. Don’t allow it. It defiles yourself and many others.
E — Embrace peace. Don’t let turmoil draw you into pointless arguments and debates.
For anyone seeking to be transformed, this is the vaccine unlike any other. And, praise God, it’s available right now for whosoever will.
See also Tim Chester’s excellent book, God’s Discipline: A Word of Encouragement in the Midst of Hardship