When I get to talk to people in these difficult times, we almost always ask each other how we’re handling life right now. Without fail, we end up agreeing that this is a really difficult and unsettling time. How’s it going? Well, not that hot actually.
But underneath that common experience lies a big difference: Some people are healthy in this hard time, some people are not. So what’s the difference? How can we know whether we’re handling this difficult season in a way that pleases the Lord and blesses us?
Here are three questions to ask yourself to get a better handle on where you actually are right now.
What fruit are you producing?
You will know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:20). So what kind of fruit is on the tree right now?
I turn often to the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit as a spiritual diagnostic. The passage reads like this:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.Galatians 5:19–24
So what kind of fruit are you seeing in your life? John and Jane may both say they’re “fine” right now, but if John is filled with impurity and fits of anger while Jane is filled with love and patience, then we’re looking at two very different spiritual experiences.
Take the time to read through and pray through each list. What does your life and heart look like?
What is your prayer life like?
Do we have more or less to pray about right now? The answer is clearly more. People are dying, the economy is shut down and everyone is trying to figure out what to do. In these confusing times, there is an unusual amount of spiritual clarity right now. God is trumpeting in our faces that we are so completely out of control.
Have your prayers kept up? Are you responding to the desperation in the air by fleeing to your creator? Are you casting your cares on him?
Adversity can drive us to God or from God. In this time of overwhelming adversity, your prayer life is a good gauge for which direction you are going.
What is your purpose?
We are meant to glorify God with all of our lives. There are different ways we might do that. We might pursue God’s glory by growing in love for him. We might do the same by growing in love for our neighbor. These goals give our lives purpose.
What is your purpose right now? What are you aiming at? How are you seeking to get there? There are a thousand great answers to this. You might read a book about the Lord. You might spend time learning a section of Scripture. You might reach out to your neighbor to bless them. You might be the ceaseless peacemaker in your home. There are so many good ways to pursue our purpose of glorifying the Lord.
There are also countless ways that we can miss the train altogether. Is your purpose to binge watch Netflix? Is your purpose to criticize everyone who disagrees with your understanding of our times? Is your purpose to just kill time until you can get back to normal life? Some goals are so devoid of Godly purpose that you can’t feel very good about them when you hold them up for examination.
Do not waste this precious season of struggle. Set your eyes on a Godly goal and pursue it in this strange hour. This is true for the nurse working 80 hours a week and it’s true for the student with 80 hours of free time each week. You are meant to glorify God in these unusual times. God wants to test your faith and conform you to the image of your Savior.
Far from purposeless, these are some of the most purpose-filled times of your life.
So how are you actually doing?
Three pillars for evaluating your spiritual health right now:
- What fruit are you producing?
- What is your prayer life like?
- What is your purpose?
Some may feel encouraged and validated by these questions. If so, praise God. Stay the course!
Others may feel convicted right now. If so, turn back to the gracious arms of your Savior and turn to his grace-filled purposes. There is still time to be redeemed— still goals to take hold of.
God is still at work, especially in these crazy times. I, for one, don’t want to miss anything he is doing.