In a time of natural disaster or national crisis, a common call rises up from the people: “God! Why don’t you act? Do something!”

Believers and non- both question our Creator and Sustainer about what is perceived as his inaction or absence.

A vision came to me recently of God up there looking down here on us and thinking, “Okay, let’s see what you can do with what I’ve given you.”

Well now.

The very breath of God, the very Word of God, gives us life and sustains us and our entire universe daily. So, he’s doing his part.

And us?

Every believer, when Christ takes up residence in our hearts, is gifted by the Holy Spirit. He gives us spiritual skills. Talents. Abilities. We all get some of the same giftings, and each receive a specialized gifting or two.

These generalized giftings, for example, include wisdom and the ability to think clearly. First Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have the “mind of Christ.” And James 1:5 tells us that God gives wisdom “generously to all without reproach.” All we need to do is ask.

These are only a couple of the many gifts or abilities we receive and have access to.

The evidence of our giftings result in what the Bible refers to as fruit. Galatians 5:22 explains that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” This is good fruit. Bad fruit is also obvious. We know it when we see it.

How are you deploying these giftings? Are you -- as we evangelicals like to say -- bearing good fruit in your family? In you community? In your world?

Besides bearing and sharing good fruit with those around us, hard times also give us an opportunity to hone our own faith, strengthen our spiritual muscle.

Romans 5:3-6 declares, “...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

In other words, the challenges of COVID-19 are multiplied opportunities for us to grow in grace and holiness.

And then there’s this currently relevant admonition from Isaiah, “...cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (1:16b-17).

But wait! There’s more!

Enduring hardship, or even things we only perceive as tough times, enables us to embrace empathy. Second Corinthians 1:3-4 explains, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

By tapping into our own experiences, we can allow the Holy Spirit to show us and relate to us the pain of others in ways we can grasp and minister to. For example, have you been cheated by a friend? Then you can comprehend injustice. Multiply your pain by a lot and you’ll get there.

As we’ve been cooped up because of COVID-19 and denied easy access to church, I’ve thought about those truly oppressed believers in countries around the world who have to hide their faith. For those who declaring openly their commitment to Christ buys them a death sentence. For those where gathering with other believes puts them all in mortal danger.

Thinking about this, my heart breaks for them and my situation is, in this context, no big deal.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. For believers, suffering is opportunity for growth. And as far as what God’s doing? He’s done it in us and now is waiting for us to share his work in us with others. When we are steadfast in actively living out our faith, God shows up in us and through us.

So, what are you doing with what he’s given you?

In other words, “Tag! You’re it!”

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