Today marks fifty-two days since Wednesday February 19th, the beginning of Lent. Although it has not been our practice to partake in lenten traditions, this year my daughter and I decided to participate by giving something up. That something, we decided, would be complaining. The timing of this was uncanny because never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what this time period would hold for myself, our family, and the world. It truly is amazing how much can happen in 52 days.
Without going into all the details, that day, February 19th, marked the start of an influenza sickness in our home that would last for over 2 weeks. The culmination of this was a terrifying incident in which my daughter suffered extremely low potassium levels resulting in a trip to the emergency room and no school for several days. Shortly after she recovered, life returned to normal- though not for long. By mid March the Covid-19 pandemic took effect changing life for everyone. Within this time my grandpa also became ill with pneumonia, and on March 31st he went home to be with Jesus. Due to restrictions surrounding the Corona virus, myself and fellow family members were unable to be with him physically during his last few days on earth. That’s a lot in 52 days.
I forget exactly when, why, or how it happened but at some point in the last few weeks I stumbled upon the word “crucible.” For whatever reason that word stuck with me and I jotted it down on my “idea list”- a running tab I keep for potential blog topics. When I searched the definition I found the description of a container in which metals can be melted at very high temperatures. I also discovered this alternate definition: “A situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.” Given the previous paragraph’s account, that definition seemed extremely fitting for the time at hand.
I’m sure if I asked each person reading this to speak of their own crucible it wouldn’t take long for something to come to mind. But what if the next question was to identify the new creation created within the crucible? That answer might take a little more digging, but the effort is certainly worth it. For me, the new creation has been a strengthened reliance on the goodness and faithfulness of God through learning to thank him for every situation. I would like to think I’m not one who typically has a habit of complaining, but I truly believe God brought that to my mind all those days ago when I was contemplating how to participate in lent. He knew. He knew the trials that lay ahead as well as how I needed to be stretched in my faith.
As I shared in one of my podcasts (Raise a Hallelujah), when my daughter was lying on the bathroom floor unable to move her hands and feet, we prayed and sang praises to God while waiting for the ambulance. I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Although my grandpa’s viewing/funeral was exceptionally small due to recent restrictions, it was a beautifully intimate time to rejoice in the life he lived for 89 years and to celebrate his residence in his new home in heaven. God’s love and grace literally shone down on our family through the brilliant sunshine that day. And though the current virus has created horrendous turmoil and grief, I hold firm that this is God’s providence for our ultimate good and His glory.
As I write this on Good Friday, I can also see how the definition of crucible fits perfectly with today- for what better model of a crucible is there than the suffering and death of Jesus. Earlier today I read the Matthew 27 account of Jesus being mocked, crucified, and buried. It’s a story I’ve heard countless times, but as I read in the stillness of the morning I tried to envision what he experienced on my behalf. In doing so I could only think of the two questions asked in the song “Living Hope” (by Phil Whickham): Who could imagine so great a mercy? What heart could fathom such boundless grace? The answer is nobody. Only God could have planned this most beautiful salvation from before the creation of time. The crucible of the cross- in all of its shame, scorn, horror, and wrath- lead to the creation of something new: us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The cross was the way for us to be delcared just before a holy God as the penalty of our sin was paid in full. Our sins, and our old selves, were nailed to the cross over 2,000 years ago. Indeed, the cross paved the way for us to become new; for through the resurrection we are raised with Christ and made alive in him. We are given newness of life that will never fade.
This post was able to unfold due to the events of the last 52 days. Although incredibly difficult, and at times unbearably painful, I thank God for crucibles- those trials and sufferings that lead us to deeper communion with our Savior. But above all, I am forever thankful for the crucible of the cross, where I, a sinner, am made new through Christ.