How are you really doing? With varying degrees of ongoing shelter-in-place mandates and real economic havoc, are you merely surviving or are you thriving? How does God really fit into this? ◊
With another week of varying degrees of ongoing shelter-in-place orders and continuing economic woes and hardship for the foreseeable future, are you merely surviving or are you actually thriving?
I heard an interesting discussion on this topic of surviving or thriving in a virtual panel this week produced by CONNECT Silicon Valley and their TechTalk session featuring 3 accomplished women discussing the ongoing challenge we all face as we move into another month of this Coronavirus pandemic and all the associated social and economic fallout.1
The discussion centered on a 3-part framework to thrive:
- Get Grounded – consider how you spend your time
- Get Connected – consider with whom you spend time
- Get Directed – consider what is your calling.
The women shared valuable insights of business and academic frameworks and research studies with real-life home and workplace application of efforts and failures in moving beyond surviving to actually thriving during these difficult days. Furthermore, as Christians, they added a faith dimension to their comments in considering finding balance in their grounding, struggling with isolation and relationships, and seeking a transcendent calling of meaningful impact.
This interesting online session got me thinking further on this topic and our coping or non-coping throughout this 2020 global human crisis. Yes, as the panel pointed out, we all are dealing with varying levels of addressing human needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (Maslow). But I would maintain that the Christian life we are called to live, in and out of even a pandemic crisis, is not based on any progressive hierarchical ladder of achievement, but rather on an ongoing transformed state of mind or permanent perspective that is almost otherworldly.
This notion is best captured in the famous passage from Romans 12:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2
This is to say that though we may experience fear and dread, loneliness and isolation, boredom and laziness, frustration and anger, worthlessness and helplessness, we are called to something larger and substantive, holy and transforming.
There is an interesting parallel to Romans 12:1-2 in the opening chapter of Peter’s first letter to the Christians living in the Roman provinces in the northern part of Asia Minor. Carefully absorb his words and message.
Peter points out that in light of what God did in giving us Jesus, and therefore now an unassailable life here and for eternity, we can endure and even celebrate in the midst of trials with strength of real and tested faith, giving ourselves over to full praise and honor of God in response:
- By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you… (1 Peter 1:3-4)
- In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
So therefore, Peter writes, move away from the mindset and passions of your former self, do not let the world mold you, but rise above in behavior, faith and hope, in accordance with the good and holy will of God for His children:
- Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance… (1 Peter 1:13-14)
- But as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct… (1 Peter 1:15)
- Through Him you have confidence in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:21)
This is a high calling with a profound and rich word. But is it doable?
Impractical Thinking in a Practical World?
So this is the real question: Can one really live and think like this? You may be asking, “How can I think about God when I just want to get my groceries ordered online?” or “How is thinking about God and Jesus going to pay the bills this month?” or “OK, God loves me, but does anyone else on earth really care if I live or die?”
Yes, the psychological, emotional, and economic fallout of this Coronavirus global crisis is very real and can overwhelm any sense of spiritual desire and well-being. Nevertheless, God is real and Jesus did live and die and He lives today and we possess the Holy Spirit as our spiritual Comforter and Helper in this dark and present age. And whether in good times or bad times, our perpetual challenge is to fully mentally shift our life’s purpose and daily perspective on all things (family, friends, work, health, finances) to a transformed God-foundational perspective that cannot be destroyed though greatly tested.
With that basis secure, the world we engage in every day, with problems and issues large and small, is addressable and beatable with a life one may even say that thrives.
What is your foundation for surviving or thriving?
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11
1 Unshakeable: Thriving More Than Surviving, TechTalk, a CONNECT Silicon Valley event, Moderator: Christ Tonge, VP, Slate Advisers; Panelists: Stacey Porter, VP, Outset Medical; and Dr. Pam Ebstyne King, Professor, Fuller Seminary, April 20, 2020.