We do not need anyone to tell us our need for renewal. We can read it in the news and hear it in the heart of the hurting. We cry out for change and seek the headlines for signs of hope. We hold meetings and form action groups.
Yet societal transformation must begin with personal awakening. Mass renewal starts in the individual. Think of examples in the great revivals of history: Jeremiah Lanphier (New York City —1857), Evan Roberts (Wales — 1904), Frank Bartleman (LA’s Azusa Street — 1905), Peggy and Christine Smith (the Hebrides, Scotland — 1949). In every case, the prerequisite of awakening was intense spiritual hunger coupled with the lack of personal power.
Today, as situations of crisis tumble upon us, we are well aware of our ability deficit. Our most agonizing prayers seem to answer one demand but sprout five more. The simple theology of the past doesn’t seem to apply to the complexity of 2023. I often feel like Henry Kissinger, who said, “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”
An overwhelmed heart is the perfect petri dish for growing spiritual hunger. Our cries to know Him and the delay of His Presence only increase our desire for God. Rather than creating hopelessness, this faith testing is developing endurance and maturity. “Count it all joy!” (James 1:2-4).
The purification of God’s people has begun. His answer to knowing Him is to invite us into His emotions of grief and sorrow (Isaiah 53:3). True intimacy includes walking alongside someone in both shadows and light. When we experience heart-rending pain, He reassures, “We do this together because I trust you, my bride. I want You with Me along every pathway I take.”
The impasse before us is the trail to revival for which we have asked. Personal transformation precedes city-wide revival. Let’s pause to thank Him for these trials, for they are the portal that leads us to the marriage feast of the Lamb.