Discernment in confusing times.

I recently polled my Facebook friends on whether or not they believed the mainstream narrative about the Coronavirus.  The results were revealing, with a vast majority answering “No”, a few in the affirmative, and another handful admitting they don’t know what to believe.  People are confused.  While some embrace hair-on-fire conspiracies, others are happily acquiescing to the approved experts who inform of ever-changing models and protocols, and warn us to stay put.  

Several have asked about my take on the situation, which is probably worth about as much as a gum-wrapper.  But if turning my thoughts into words might help us look a little less like the Keystone cops, I’m happy to give it a try.

I think we’re facing a double-headed crisis.  On the one hand is an unpredictable and dangerous pandemic, and on the other is a great uncertainty of what to believe about the pandemic.  In a world of so many story lines, we’re all wondering what truth remains when the computer and television screens are switched off. 

Up front, I’m not a conspiracy person.  Conspiracies distract me from the simplicity of Jesus and his Kingdom.  God told Isaiah, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.”  (Isaiah 8:12) Alarmism is being peddled from every direction, from the fear-mongering of the left leaning media, to the fear-mongering of right-leaning conspiracies. That’s not to say there’s no truth in any of it; both sides may indeed contain elements of truth, but fear should never lead the way.  Love is to lead. And as it does, fear will be cast out.   (1 John 4:18)

We Christians believe that the world is a battleground of good and evil, where our enemy strains to enslave and destroy the human race.  On top of that, we also believe that in the last days, (which, according to Acts 2:17 and Hebrews 1:2 began with the ascension of Jesus), “perilous times will come”, with deceptions, plagues and persecutions.  But these warnings are only footnotes to the good news, not the good news itself.  Disciples of Jesus ought to focus on the main attraction, and not the footnotes.    

My hope is that the church will seize this moment with wisdom and courage, and offer hope to those around us. Nobody knows for certain where this plague will go.  So lets take a deep breath and seek God diligently for discernment as we move forward.  After centuries of shooting ourselves in the foot with our dire prognostications, lets avoid making that mistake one more time around.

Of all the spiritual gifts, I believe discernment is God’s gift for this hour.  Over the years I’ve made a steady habit of praying, “Lord, give me discernment; show me the truth.  Don’t let me fall into conspiracies, empty rumors and foolishness.  Give me clear eyes and insight into the truth.” 

Here are a few humble suggestions I’d put forward:

  • Focus on the good news of Jesus and His Kingdom.
  • Avoid gloom and doom.  (That is certainly not the good news).
  • Cry out daily for discernment, truth, and understanding.
  • Steep yourself in scripture.
  • Cultivate humility, inviting God to challenge and correct your ideas and opinions as needed.
  • Stay prayerfully informed from a variety of news sources, both liberal and conservative, checking them carefully for facts.
  • Honor the Truth, whose name is Jesus, remembering He lives in you.  
  • Let love, not fear, lead the way.

6 thoughts on “Discernment in confusing times.”

  1. I really like Dispatches… Ironically, just today I thought, I am going to take a break from all this Covid hysteria and fear. After all, fear and divisiveness (in this new iteration) are starting to hurt us more than the virus itself. I hope for better out of this – that we will recognize Who is really in charge here, start loving and helping each other. I am praying for discernment, wisdom and the revealing of God’s Truth for myself and the world.

    Sharon 😊

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    1. Thanks, Sharon! What a refreshing encouragement. “…that we will recognize Who is really in charge here, start loving and helping each other.” I couldn’t agree with you more. And then, in that great day Jesus will find us going about our Father’s work.

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  2. I really like how you think, Don! 🙂

    On Sun, May 10, 2020, 2:03 PM Dispatches from the Shadowlands: Hopeful glimpses of a Kingdom wrote:

    > Don Stephens posted: ” I recently polled my Facebook friends on whether or > not they believed the mainstream narrative about the Coronavirus. The > results were revealing, with a vast majority answering “No”, a few in the > affirmative, and another handful admitting they don’t kno” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good ideas Don.

    As a physician and surgeon, I am familiar with the transmission of infections. This one is apparently fairly easy to transmit and somewhat unpredictably devastating. Even going through a ‘normal’ flu experience is not appetizing. So decreasing transmission through social distancing, using masks, keeping clean hands, and avoid touching our faces (masks help with this). However, it is easy for all of us, even medical workers, to touch contaminated surfaces – for instance a door knob, gas pump, item in a store, or even part of a mask we are wearing, donning, or removing.

    As far as conspiracy theories about how this virus was let loose from a lab or market or both, whether New York got its virus from Europe or China, or Korea, and other such confusing accusations that our media and politicians like to lob into the mix – I have no proof. Whether to side with those who welcome the government controlling what we are allowed to do or those who demand freedom to live as they wish without regard for how the epidemic proceeds, I see points from both sides. What I have believed from early on is that, like the TSA coming after 911, we can expect that we should live differently until we have a vaccine and/or good treatment options – we need to go on living with modifications in order to decrease the risk of infection to ourselves and others.

    I appreciate what you shared and agree whole-heartedly that we Christians should run to Jesus for wisdom and help each other during this world event. This is an opportunity to let Jesus, the gospel, and Christians loving each other shine. The church should have the lowest infection rate and the highest we-are-helping-each-other rate of all. Jesus said that before He returns faith and love will wane – the church should not be part of this waning.

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  4. Hey Howard! Thanks for your thoughts, and for taking the time to formulate and share them. You’re a clear thinker, and I appreciate your perspective, especially, “The church should have the lowest infection rate and the highest we-are-helping-each-other rate of all.”

    Blessings, friend!

    Like

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