Updated: May 7, 2020
The second week of August, 2011, was one of the hardest weeks of my life.
I pulled up to the cheerleading practice facility on campus at 7:45am, along with fifty-four others for the first day of boot camp. Grueling hours of conditioning, stunting, and downright hard work laid ahead.
Sweat dripped in my eyes each day before the warm up was even finished. I had not prepared for the 110+ degree temperatures.
By the third day, I’d sweated through at least twelve shirts, was bruised from stunting, and I began to think, “I can’t wait for this to be over.”
Have you had this thought recently? I know I have. It has filtered through my mind as I’ve sat through days of working at my “office” (aka my kitchen table) and looking at a screen for hours on end.
Have you thought this as you’ve taken exams at home or scrolled for another at-home workout?
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live— not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
When Paul wrote Ephesians, he had been unjustly put in prison because of his faith and wrote these verses from a nasty prison cell. He wasn’t exactly experiencing “ideal circumstances,” yet he advised us to respond to the expected and the unexpected in the same way — make the most of every opportunity.
Currently, many people are eager for quarantine to be over, waiting for the day that masks aren’t needed in public or when sitting down in a restaurant isn’t a luxury of the past.
But we can choose how we view our circumstances.
We can see them as opportunities or we can see them as hindrances. If we see them as hindrances, we are likely to miss the opportunity God wants to use to develop us holistically and as followers of Jesus.
In the book of Philippians, Paul (the same writer of Ephesians), set an example for what to do when the unexpected happens. Here’s two ways he emulates how to view the current situation as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.
CHECK YOUR PERSPECTIVE
If I were thrown into prison unjustly like Paul, I would be furious. Wouldn’t you? I would feel unfairly treated and deserving of being released. Do you feel like that now? Like corona has taken away freedoms that you deserve to have back?
Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
Instead of being angry, frustrated, or annoyed, Paul found joy in the fact that what was most valuable to him couldn’t be taken away — his relationship with God.
Right now, you may feel robbed. Of your spring semester. Of memories with friends. Of freedom to make your own plans. But if you choose to change your perspective, no matter how bad your circumstances get, if you have a relationship with God, you can find joy in knowing that can't be taken away.
In Philippians 3:14, Paul continues by saying, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
To press on means “to run swiftly to reach a goal.”
In Paul’s circumstances, he decided to be committed to pursue his goals instead of simply waiting for the time to pass. Similar to us, Paul was in a situation that he didn’t anticipate and wasn’t ideal, but yet he chose to press on.
How have you responded to your unexpected changes? Are you making the most of every opportunity or are you just getting by until you return to what your life was?
God wants to use this time to develop us into men and women of God and great leaders...if we let Him.
Let’s be people that fight to view our current situation as an opportunity.
Think through the questions below on your own and then ask a spiritual leader for insight as to how you can use this time to grow.
In a year from now, what if you were to look back at this season in awe of what God did in your life? What if, instead of cringing when you think of the quarantine of 2020, you could be thankful you used your time how you did?
The choice is yours.
Will you take the opportunity?
Reflect on the following questions:
How are you currently viewing your circumstances?
What kind of person could you be at the end of this pandemic if you choose to maximize the opportunity to grow?
What do you need to do today to “press on” towards your goals?
If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend! Tell people about it on social media using the share function below or text someone the link.