A crucible is a pot in which metals or other substances can be melted or heated to very high temperatures. It can also refer to a situation in which something is tested or in which a conflict takes place, often one which produces something new.
Both definitions eerily resonate with what our world has experienced since COVID became a household word: things definitely heated up, so to speak, around the globe. Testing took place, is continuing to take place. But the “produces something new” part… well, we certainly hope so, but there are days when all we feel is the heat and none of the benefits.
Dr. David Van Dyke, in his article “The Covid-19 Crucible: Confronting Our True Selves” made a comment I agree with… and yet wish weren’t true:
“… our true selves are being exposed, and we don’t like what we see.”
Experientially, we probably all can attest to how the pandemic has impacted us. It has been unsettling, scary, disorienting, frustrating. All the things we could count on — daily routines, interactions with others, financial security — have changed, some perhaps permanently. Some parts of the world appear to be back to normal, while others are still teetering off-balance. Here in Thailand we’re holding our breath, being cautiously optimistic as the country has re-opened to visitors from 63 nations as of November 1st. Some restrictions are still in place, but it’s an important step on the road to recovery.
Another thing a crucible does is purify. The process reveals the true beauty or identity of whatever is being tested by removing the yucky stuff. The unimportant stuff. The stuff that tends to cling and distort what is true. In other words, it can help us discover who we were made to be. The “real me” as God sees you and me.
One area in which God is using this crucible in my life is exposing my tendency to want to be in control. When plans go awry, when hopes get dashed, when anxious thoughts multiply because of uncertainty I’m realizing how subtly I’ve put my trust in my ability to call the shots, to figure things out, to want to fix whatever. I’ve forgotten that God is in control, that He really DOES know what He’s doing, that I can trust Him for all the unknowns that can so quickly derail my thinking and actions.
Being in this crucible is reinforcing the importance of clinging to a proper understanding of who God is and who He has made me to be. It also makes me realize how now, more than ever, we need one another as we figure out some of these things. We need to continue nurturing relationships, identifying and sharing what we appreciate with one another. We need to be vulnerable, sharing openly and honestly with one another. We need, in a very real sense, to be willing to take some risks as we’re in this crucible.
Dr. Van Dyke also said,
“We will continue to have crucibles in our lives that reveal our true selves. Now is the time to address and practice ways of relating that will foster emotional and relational flourishing, even in times of social distancing, pandemic induced loss, and things out of control.”
Hmm… we will CONTINUE to have crucibles in our lives…
May we seek ways to encourage one another in whatever crucible we find ourselves in — helping one another to be expectant that something new may emerge from the “heat” we’re experiencing. And together, may that help us to have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life.”