These days have been some of the roughest ever in history. With the global pandemic came a health crisis, a global economic downturn, waves of depression, and many other tragedies of epochal proportions.
The truth of the matter, my friends, is that we are not yet out of the woods. How I wish I could say that we are at the tail end of the COVID-19 crisis, but I would be lying. That’s not pessimism. It’s just fact. Yet, in light of a greater truth, I also want to declare that we can still persevere even amidst great trials.
But your ability to persevere depends on the foundations of your life. Through some of our family’s tests through the pandemic, I’ve been driven to think about what our foundations are. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a uniqu monster to the Mabilog household. While we didn’t have any significant money problems, we were battling with burnout. In the middle of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, Ces and I found ourselves overwhelmed with having to juggle two kids without help and a significantly increased workload to keep up with the demands of keeping our clients’ businesses afloat in recession while racing against the clock to edit our online services and upload them ahead of Sunday.
Our values, faith, sanity, and marriage went through the fire. We barely made it out alive, if I can be completely frank. And that was because we were able to build on the right foundations by the grace of God and the guidance of the right mentors.
I reference to Matthew 7:24-26 (ESV):
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”Matthew 7:24-26 (ESV)
Obviously, we all want to build on the rock, and Jesus gave us a clear roadmap to do that. I don’t want to get all to scholarly, but allow me to provide some essential context to this verse to be Biblically accurate. Jesus had just delivered one of the most iconic preachings. Today, we refer to it as the “Sermon on the Mount,” a rich discourse that spans three chapters in Matthew’s book. In that preaching, Jesus talks about the Beatitudes, the Salt and Light principle, and teachings on treasures, anxiety, anger management, sexual purity, and many other vital lessons.
He then concluded with the parable of the two house builders. Jesus narrates two examples- one person who built a firm house that withstood the storm and one that created a flimsy structure that eroded with the rains.
Consumerist Christianity versus Absolute Surrender
What is the significant difference between a firmly planted faith that can withstand the storms of life and a flimsy one that will fall apart in a crisis? There’s one clear separator. One heard the word and applied it while the other heard but failed to apply it.
“…Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…”
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand…”
One foundational principle to life: know God’s Word and put it into practice. It’s easy to obey God’s Word when the commands are accessible. But when it costs us all of a sudden, it makes more sense to do things our way.
But if there’s one thing that I have seen in our family and the lives of so many great examples that we emulate, obedience to God’s Word is foundational to becoming storm-proof Christians. Flimsy “Christians” will go with the flow and only follow God when it’s easy. They’ll go to church when they like the preacher, refuse to tithe because it’s ‘old covenant’, and hold on to their beliefs when they clash with God’s commands.
But consumerist Christianity never withstands the storms. Soon we’ll find ourselves in our old ways of handling crisis. And sadly, those old ways will fail. But when we rely on God’s tested and proven principles, promises, and precepts, we will persevere. Sure the problem might persist. It might go away, and we might face another challenge. The fact of the matter is trial will always be there. But a sturdy Christian will withstand all storms because they know and apply the word.
In the Face of a Storm will You Worship Still?
Recently, we launched a memoir of my late mother, Biko Mabilog, entitled “Canvas and Manuscript.” One of the things that I remember most about Mama is her knack of worshipping God out of the blue. She would listen to her favorite worship songs. “Still” and “Praise You In The Storm” were her regulars.
When she fought cancer and chemotherapy, I thought I would hear those songs less. Yet, on the contrary, she would start playing them on repeat more often. Her “storm” did not stop her worship. It magnified it!
In retrospect, I realize now that Mama knew the word. And that resulted in faith in times of shaking. Praise in the middle of the storm— stillness when her world was shaking.
Take the time to reflect on your faith during the pandemic. Are you founded on the right foundation? Is convenience the basis of your faith? Did you stop giving, fellowshipping, serving, or obeying because these are “unprecedented times?” If you have, I do not judge you, my friend.
On the contrary, I empathize with you. As I said, I almost fell apart early this year. Because for a moment, I was not applying God’s Word to my life and leadership at home and work. But I’m so grateful for God’s relentless and enabling grace that reminded me to put action into my faith.
I invite you to do the same today. Don’t just know God’s Word. Put it into practice even if it’s inconvenient. Start with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and ask yourself, “which of these can I start applying?” That portion in itself is an excellent place to start. It’s also biblical.
Will you get washed away in the storm, or will you praise him because your foundation is firm even when the winds blow and rains fall?