Near or Far…
Posted on May 6, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
Trials have a way of exposing our weakness and revealing where we are in jeopardy of falling out of step with our Savior. Life won’t be the same after the virus; some will have found different interests to fill their time, moving far from God, while others will have developed a more intimate relationship, moving near to Him.
The word ‘quarantine’ entered the English language in the early 1600s. This idea of “isolation” or ‘solitude’ comes from the Italian word, quarantina, a period of forty days. What’s so unique, about 40? Historically, quarantine referred to a period, originally of 40 days, imposed upon ships when suspected of carrying an infectious or contagious disease. This practice was done in Venice in the 1300s to stave off the plague.
This same period shows up in God’s plan as well; there are three specific periods of 40 in Moses’ life; his time in Egypt, in the wilderness, and then leading Israel. He also spent 40 days on Mount Sinai and interceded on behalf of Israel for another 40 days. The Israelite spies took 40 days in Canaan, the nation wandered for 40 years after rejecting God’s rest. Goliath messed with Israel for 40 days before David arrived to slay him. Elijah traveled 40 days to Mt Horeb. Jonah prophesied 40 days till Nineveh was to be judged. Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights, and there were 40 days between His resurrection and ascension. The law even limits the maximum number of lashes a man could receive for judgment, establishing it at 40.
So what’s the significance? It seems that a period of 40 is established for the necessary groundwork of obedience. It appears to be the length of time needed to remove ‘diseased’ thinking and renew a mind, in accordance with the word of God. Even Jesus was put through this trial, so he would be our perfect ‘High Priest,’ able to empathize with how strenuous the ordeal is to prepare us to walk in obedience to God’s will. (Hebrews 4:15)
I don’t believe there is a switch that gets flipped on the 41st day, but more so that God is informing us that a significant time period is required for a child of God to be qualified to do the will of God. I also believe the outcome of this trial is determined by our choosing to either rest in God’s work to renew us physically, mentally, and spiritually; Or, our resistance to God, and wasting time with trivial things. The later putting us in jeopardy of God’s revealed judgment.
James writes, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG)
So the question then is, “Having been through about 40 days of ‘quarantine,’ are you near to God, walking in obedience to His Word, or far from God… finding no reason to move closer and trust Him..?
I found myself in the hospital again the other day, alone and isolated because I didn’t have the virus, only a heart issue. I wanted to be done with whatever this is that God is doing… and I told Him so! I was tired, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Don’t you know God had the nerve to send someone to comfort me, helping me make it through this part of His plan? I was annoyed at first and was wishing for a large fish to escape in, but slowly His ‘still small voice’ broke through my pity, and reassured me He was at work, He was fighting for me. In those hours, I went from what I saw as far away, to see God was near the whole time.
Works of equipping us for participation in God’s plan, whether it’s at the point of your salvation, or Him preparing you like Moses for some significant task, these trials are hard and a substantial length of time. The key is not to give up, don’t ever give in to the temptation to resist or walk away. God is fighting for you, He has something extraordinary in mind… and the longer the trial, it seems the more significant the role He is preparing you for.
Picking up His cross and following Christ is not for the faint of heart, and God in His compassion will do everything necessary to prepare you for that moment in time. Trust Him; trust God to do what He promises He will do; rest in dependence on His work in your life, allow His Spirit to lead, strengthen, and guide you through the training and trial. You will know joy, peace, and contentment on the other side… *when these tears and this pain will no longer exist, no more walking… we will be running as fast as we can… just consider this our second wind! God promises.
(*Almost Home lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group)
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “Just as we are what we eat physically, we are also what we consume spiritually.” ―
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” –Matthew 5:43-44
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.