I chose the theme of “Victory” planning to write something altogether different as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
But since then, COVID-19 has happened and we are all hunkering down somewhere in this pandemic-stricken globe praying earnestly, hoping bravely, and believing confidently that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead is still in control. That He’s got this.
Yet still we wait.
We wait as a world on lockdown. Borders have been closed and airlines grounded. Jobs have been upended and economies thrown into a tailspin. Schools have had to be re-imagined and some businesses deemed non-essential. Entertainment is now within the confines of our property lines and we can no longer shake our neighbor’s hand. Bustling streets are now barren and church buildings are empty.
Understandably, we are being asked to social distance, but having been created for community, the isolation can become overbearing. Normal, as we have always known it, is being unraveled in front of our very eyes and if we have never fully acknowledged it before, the novelty of this situation has affirmed that we wait, and live, solely at the mercy of God.
I don’t know about you, but my knowing that God’s got this has not always equated to my living it in real time. There have been so many moments in the last several weeks where the onslaught of it all has left me feeling vulnerable, not victorious. Maybe it’s the fluidity of the situation and the constant change in restrictive measures leaving little time to plan. Maybe it’s the conflicting reports and all that scientists are yet to know or the fact that for all of governments’ efforts, we still don’t seem to be in front of this. Maybe it’s living in this small island economy that is so heavily dependent on the rest of the world when the rest of the world has been temporarily closed. Maybe it’s the indefinite timeline and the sense of desperation that we all pray does not fester from the wait.
Whatever it is, the magnitude of the situation has brought me to a place of vulnerability and is emptying me of any reliance I’ve had in the façade of the familiar.
But that could be a good thing, right? Even though it’s uncomfortable? Even though the word “empty” often carries with it a negative connotation? An empty gas tank. An empty stomach. An empty wallet or an empty promise. Can “empty” really be a good thing?
Oh, but Jesus! The One who endured the cruelty of the cross even redeemed “empty” to be good that resurrection weekend, so that His presence may fill all things.
First, in light of cross, Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-8 that Jesus set the example by emptying Himself:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (ESV)
If Jesus emptied Himself to become a servant so that He could fulfill the will of God, how much more do we need to be emptied of self so that God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is fulfilled in us? The cross of Jesus redeems our emptiness, so that His presence may fill all things.
Secondly, in light of the resurrection, let us look at the tomb. It was not only sealed, but it was also guarded, inescapable by man’s standards. But we all know the story. On the third day, the stone was divinely rolled away and the tomb found empty, for Jesus – our Lord and Savior, our Hope and Redeemer – had resurrected and is alive.
See, the empty tomb fulfilled God’s promise.
The empty tomb conveyed God’s power.
The empty tomb means God’s presence.
Jesus emptied Himself to fulfill God’s will. God emptied the tomb to fulfill His promise.
So as I reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus in the midst of this global crisis, I am learning that my being emptied is exactly the place where God wants me to be. Maybe it’s the place He wants the world to be. For without the emptying of self and the safety of the familiar, without the emptying of negative thoughts and of useless fears, without the emptying of anxiety or of mistrust or resentment – without the emptying, we can never be fully filled with the truth of His promise, the glory of His power, and the assurance of His presence.
“He who descended is the very same as He who also ascended high above all the heavens, that He (His presence) might fill all things (that is the whole universe).” ~ Ephesians 4:10 (AMP)
Yes, we all hunkering down somewhere in this pandemic-stricken globe praying earnestly, hoping bravely, believing confidently, AND living victoriously knowing that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead is still in control. That He’s got this – so that His presence might fill all things!
Is there something that God is emptying you of during this global crisis and how is He redeeming that for good?