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Coronavirus and Seeing the Good

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

I Want to Be A Glass Half Full Kind of Girl | The Mighty

Ok, here’s the age-old question: is that glass half full or half empty? The optimist says half full. The pessimist says half empty. The realist asks if the water has just been poured or if someone has been drinking it. I think there’s a fourth category as well: the person who sees the good. This person would see the glass of water and be thankful that he has any water at all. Sounds a bit like optimism, right? Here’s the difference: even if the glass is half empty, the optimist ignores that reality and chooses to see reality differently (i.e., though the glass is really half empty, I’m choosing to see it as half full). However, if even if the glass is half empty, the person who sees the good accepts reality as it is but also chooses to see the good in the midst of that reality (i.e., though the glass is half empty, I’m thankful to have water in the first place).

So which one are you? Are you the optimist, the pessimist, the realist, or the person who sees the good? Which one does the Bible call us to be?

People who know me best know that I am not an optimist. In fact, though I like to claim that I’m a realist, the truth is I’m a bit of a pessimist. However, as a Christian, I want to strive to be the person who sees the good, because that’s who Christ calls His followers to be.

One of the best examples of this in the Bible is Job. Throughout the book of Job, we get a few examples of how he was one who strived to see the good. For instance, after Job lost all his livestock, all but four of his servants, and all ten of his children (Job 1:13-19), he fell down, tore his robe, shaved his head, and worshipped, saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job was neither a pessimist nor an optimist, but rather he was one who accepted the reality of his situation but still saw the good: though the Lord took all from him, he was thankful to have had any of it in the first place. In chapter 2 of the book of Job, we see a similar situation. Satan attacks Job with sores all over his body, and Job’s wife tells him to curse God and die. Yet, Job says to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). That’s another great example of someone who sees the good. He accepted that his situation was hard and terrible, but he also saw the goodness of God to have given him anything good in the past.

Here’s my point: no matter how bad life gets, no matter how bad the situation is, for believers, there is always good. That’s what the Bible says: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Focus on those four key words: all things…for good. Not some things. Not most things. All things. This means for believers, there is always good in every circumstance. The question is: are you going to believe the Bible and strive to see the good, or are you going to focus only on the harsh realities of your circumstances?

It’s so important for us to be those who see the good because if we don’t, then we will inevitably end up with a wrong view of God. If we base our perspective of God on our circumstances, then we will love Him when things go well and curse Him when things don’t go well. Some people think that God’s blessings are earned and can be merited by our good deeds, good behavior, and good works. But what about people like Job, who did good deeds, had good behavior, and had good works but experienced hardships and tragedies? We have to remember that God’s grace cannot be earned. Grace, by its very definition, is undeserved.

The reason we must strive to see the good is because if we base our views about God and His Word on our circumstances, then our thoughts about Him will change on a daily basis. God’s goodness is not based on our circumstances. God’s love is not based on our good works. God’s grace is not based on what we’ve done. The truthfulness of God’s Word is not based on our perceptions of it. God is good because He is God. God’s love is based on Jesus Christ and His perfect life, His perfect obedience, and His sacrificial death. God’s grace is based on His own purposes. God’s Word is true because God breathed it out Himself.

We have to learn to take God at His Word. So when God says in His Word that He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, we need to take Him at His Word and seek to see the good in all things. This doesn’t mean “good” according to our standard and definition but “good” according to God’s standard and definition. The more we strive to see the good in all things, the more we will begin to have a more glorious, steadfast, and biblical view of God.

Striving to see the good has been a very pressing issue for me for the past two weeks. As most of you know, I’ve had Covid for about two weeks now, and it has been terrible. The worst part has been having to be away from my wife and son this whole time. But I could get hung up on the other harsh aspects of my circumstance as well like the constant heart pain, the persistent cough, the overwhelming fatigue, the ridiculous shortness of breath, the fear of the unknown, the flu-like symptoms, the loneliness of quarantine, etc., etc.

However, I want to be one who strives to see the good, though I am admittedly bad it and much more prone to pessimism. So let me share with you the good I’ve seen in the midst of this difficult time:

  1. Comfort from and nearness of God. There have been plenty of times over the past two weeks when I have been absolutely terrified (it’s hard not to be terrified when you feel like you’re having a heart attack almost 24/7). Yet, in those times, I have called out to God as a son to a Father, and God has been gracious to let me feel His love, comfort, and presence in a powerful way. I spent time meditating on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, which talks about how God comforts us in our afflictions and sufferings. I have been quarantined from others, but I have felt the nearness of God over the past two weeks in a powerful way.
  2. Time to read, pray, and meditate. In my typical schedule, I have no free time. I don’t mean little free time. I mean no free time. In such a busy schedule, I don’t have as much time to read, pray, and meditate as I would like (I still do read and pray and meditate on God’s Word- I just want more time to do it). Not being able to do anything has allowed me to have time to read God’s Word more, pray more, and meditate on God and His Word more. It’s been a blessing and a treat.
  3. Time to rest. Before I became symptomatic with Covid, I was exhausted. I was working myself to death and was even telling Anna I needed a week off. I didn’t actually expect the Lord to give it to me! I never take time to rest (though I need to), but the Lord knew I needed time to rest. So even though the circumstances have not been ideal, I have had time to rest and recover (from Covid and from overworking).
  4. Overwhelming love and support. During this time, I have had many people reach out to me, expressing their concern, love, and support. I’ve received calls, cards, and texts. I’ve had friends and family checking on me daily. I’ve also had my friends and family recruiting people to pray for me—people from all over, from Easley to Boone to Texas to Ecuador and more! It’s been an overwhelming outpouring of love and support, and I am incredibly thankful for it.
  5. Renewed Passion. I can’t wait to preach again! I mean it. I’m pumped. I can’t wait to be back with the church that I love so much and preach and teach God’s Word! When you fall into a rhythm with work, and when you’re preaching three times a week with no break, it’s easy for your fuel to run out. But having this time to rest and being out of the pulpit has only served to refuel me, reinvigorate me, and rekindle my passion. I’m so excited about getting back to preaching.

I have had two days of improvement in a row, and I’m praying for more. Lord willing, I will be recovered by Sunday August 9, and we will be able to have our baptism service as scheduled. Even if we do end up having to postpone the baptisms, if the Lord has allowed me to recover fully by Sunday August 9, you can expect to see me at Georges Creek with a Bible in my hand ready to preach God’s Word!

In a world full of pessimists and optimists, join me in trying to be one who strives to see the good.