This morning I was looking at the news and saw that the White House will be extending the the coronavirus guidelines until April 30th. I’m going to be honest, even though I knew that was coming, I was still pretty discouraged by that thought.
These days feel dark. This is but one of many difficulties within this pandemic. People are losing a lot. From their sense of normal, to their jobs, to retirement, and even loved ones.
I was on our church’s prayer channel Friday morning as prayer requests came pouring in. At one point as I was reading the stories of all the pain in our church from this situation, I was moved to tears. It’s heart-breaking what people are going through, the fears they’re facing, the weight they’re carrying.
Why did I feel so discouraged? Christians are not people of discouragement or but of hope. I’m used to giving others hope. I found myself looking for hope today.
You know what? That’s a good thing to l look for. That’s a good prayer. The Holy Spirit loves to provide hope. And He did. Today He reminded me of Scripture.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
I want to offer two direct reasons this verse is hopeful.
01: It Acknowledges Our Anxieties.
What’s powerful about this verse is that it’s not glossing over reality. It blatantly says “the days are evil”.
You know what’s refreshing? The Bible is the most honest book that’s ever been written precisely because it doesn’t write-off our wrestlings. Instead, Paul point blank calls the days evil. These are evil days. Aren’t they?
It’s healthy and right to acknowledge that this is hard—even dark at times. For many of us, this season will be a serious trial. How do we handle it? In our culture we’re told to either hold it in or we vent it out. Both are equally unhealthy. Is there another option?
The Bible invites us to grieve. It even offers a whole category of Scripture to teach us and help us to grieve well. It’s called “Lament”. If you read through many of the Psalms, or the whole book of Lamentations, the authors of Scripture lament. It’s transferring our burdens onto God through honesty with Him.
This is God’s way of providing a space for us to pray our pain. Rather than stuffing our pain inward, or venting it outward, what if you prayed your pain upward? You can do start by praying the Psalms or Lamentations.
Now, it’s not good to live in grief. But it is good to grieve. Even if that’s just grieving the loss of a sense of “normal”. Grief gives way to hope as we come to God with lament. As Christians we grieve but not as those who have no hope. (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).
02: It Redirects And Redeems.
This passage calls us to live wisely. But because we live in a broken, fallen reality, Paul calls us to “make the best use of the time.” In the Old King James version they translated this verse “redeeming the time.” That’s helpful language.
Redeem: to get or win back, repair, restore, or to exchange for something of value. Buy back.
I love this idea of buying back the time. Many of us feel a sense of loss. This virus has stolen thing—not least among which is time. Back God is offering us the opportunity to buy it back by pouring value into it.
The wise person takes broken things and forms them into something of value. This is such a Gospel word. Redeem is the word often used in reference to salvation in the Gospel.
When God grabbed my 16 year old life that was being used for self and sin and redirected me for his purposes, we would say he redeemed me.
Or when my wife and I moved into an old 1950’s home and started (slowly) bringing new life into it, with fresh paint, and decor, and filling it with our kids, and plants, and friends, and family—it was redemptive.
Those who are redeemed by Jesus are sent out to redeem the time. That’s the calling of the disciple of Jesus. To take and recycle what’s falling apart and use it for good. Let’s end with three practical ways to redeem these evil days:
- Read Good Books. If you have extra time this is a very redemptive purpose. Redeem the time renewing your mind with Scripture and Theology books you’ve never had time to Read.
- Create a Rule of Life. This is an old Christian term that refers to the rhythms, habits, and imposed limitations we place ourselves for flourishing. A church provides this helpful handbook for free to help you do that.
- Learn To Pray. There is going to be less in-the-flesh community for the coming weeks if we abide by the coronavirus-guidelines. But that provides more in-the-Spirit communion. Silence. Many of us really don’t pray if we’re honest. This time is a call to prayer.