What I Want Out of These Challenging Days

In March of 2020, I got the phone call no mom ever wants to receive. Just a few hours after completing lab work for our newborn, Samuel, the pediatrician called and said there was a problem. She was worried about Samuel’s slow weight gain. Due to the abnormal lab results, she recommended we see a liver specialist right away.

After multiple tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, and more blood work (which was likely more painful for this mom than her son), we returned to the liver specialist. Praise God, the doctor gave us good news! The tests showed that Samuel has a genetic problem that he will likely outgrow, and there was no need for treatment. The doctor looked at Samuel’s chart and noted his weight had doubled since our last visit. He then said something I will not forget: “Samuel, you are twice the man you used to be!” 

Acceleration and Transformation

A few days later, I shared this fantastic news with my women’s Bible study via Zoom. As one of the ladies prayed, she said, “At the end of this coronavirus season, may each of us be twice the women we used to be.” My friend wasn’t just praying we would become better versions of ourselves. Rather she was asking God to double the work He is doing in our lives and to accelerate our transformation into His image. 

Since that day, I have been praying something similar. I’m asking the Lord to help me decrease during this pandemic so that His glory would be multiplied and shine more intensely through me. I’m praying for twice the amount of the fruit of Spirit to be displayed in my parenting, my marriage, and my ministry. 

I don’t want to emerge from this time of isolation, shelter-in-place, quarantine, mask-wearing, and handwashing with a heart that’s bitter, frustrated, or angry. I want my faith to be more robust, my passion for Jesus to be stronger, my prayer life to be more consistent, my sharing of the gospel to be bolder, my forgiveness of others to be more complete, and my love for all people to be more genuine. What I want as a result of the coronavirus is for the good work God began in me to be expanded so that He will be glorified to a much greater extent in my life (Phil. 1:6).

Our Part in the Process

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Sometimes we may act according to our former way of life, but the truth is that we are a totally new creation, as God calls us to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). So how can we accelerate our transformation so we may glorify God more fully?

We find a clue in 2 Corinthians 3:18–4:1:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 

The apostle Paul was referring to how Moses’s face was radiant after “he had been talking with God” (Ex. 34:29). Because the appearance of Moses’s face frightened the Israelites, he wore a veil when talking to them but “unveiled” his face as he spoke with God (Ex. 34:33–35). As Moses spent time in close, intimate, fellowship with God, this not only transformed him but affected those around him as well.

In Christ, the veil over our eyes has been removed, and we can now speak with God directly (2 Cor. 3:16). When we spend “unveiled” time with God, we are progressively changed into the image of Christ. The New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Transformation happens as we abide in God’s glorious presence. As we “see” His glory, we will then “reflect” it to those around us. When we fix our eyes and thoughts not on what we can see but on our unseen, glorious Father, our faces will be radiant—just like Moses (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 12:2; Ps. 34:5). 

As we increased the milk we gave baby Samuel each day and made weight gain his focus, he got bigger, ounce by ounce and day by day. Similarly, as we increase the time we spend with God, reading His Word and making Him our focus, little by little and one degree at a time we will be changed through the power of His Spirit. Just as physical food helps children grow, spiritual food, or the Word of God, helps us to grow into spiritual maturity (Matt. 4:4). While the Spirit does the work of making us a new creation one degree at a time, we need to do our part by investing in face-to-face time with God. 

4 Ways to Grow

While I would love to spend an hour or more each morning reading my Bible, listening to praise music, or praying in a setting of domestic tranquility, the fact is I live in a big city, have two daughters, a newborn baby, and a husband who now works from home. So is it possible for me to be twice the woman or twice the image-bearer of Christ at the end of this pandemic? I believe it is, with God’s help. 

Perhaps your life is a bit crazy right now. Maybe you’ve been feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, or discouraged. Maybe you are stressed out, burned out, or worn out. No matter your outward or inward struggles, God has not given up on you. He is committed to the transformation process He began in you as the author and finisher of your faith (Heb. 12:2). 

Here are some ways I am partnering with the Holy Spirit in this process. I hope you will join me, even if life around you seems disordered or disorganized.

1. Pray

God’s Word tells us that if we ask Him for anything according to His will, He will give it to us (1 John 5:14–15). He also said in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that His will for us is our “sanctification.” This means that praying for God to sanctify us is according to His will, so He hears us. May we have the faith to believe that He will change us from glory to glory!

During this season of my life, I don’t have a lot of alone time to pray, but I try to continually talk to God throughout my day. While rocking Samuel, I can pray for him. While attempting to fix my daughters’ hair, I can pray for them. We can pray while waiting at the doctor’s office, walking the dog, driving in the car, folding laundry, making dinner, or doing dishes. Instead of just having a set prayer time once per day, we can weave prayer throughout the fabric of our days.

2. Renew Your Mind

We can partner with God in our transformation by renewing our minds with Truth (John 17:17). You are likely familiar with Romans 12:2, which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As we renew and refresh our minds each day with truth instead of the lies of the world, we will be guided and changed by it. Each day we have the choice to be “conformed” to the world or be “transformed” by truth.

To renew my mind, I often try to start each morning by reading a verse or chapter of Scripture, usually from Psalms or Proverbs. If one of my kids wakes me up, preventing me from starting my day this way, I leave my Bible open in the middle of our dining room table. When I have a moment between daily activities, emails, or calls, I can read one verse or passage, which helps to keep my focus upward on God rather than on my outward circumstances. I’ve found it’s a lot harder to have an unloving or impatient response to my kids or husband when I have just finished reading a quick Word of Truth. 

3. Meditate on the Word 

While meditation has come to mean many different things in our society, the Hebrew word for “meditate” is hagah. This is not just sitting in silence; it has a more vocal definition, meaning to “groan, utter, or speak in an undertone.”1 Throughout the day, we can utter or quietly repeat Scripture to ourselves. As we meditate and act upon God’s Word, this will make our “way prosperous” and we will “have good success” (Josh. 1:8). 

To be honest, I haven’t memorized any lengthy passages recently. However, each morning I try to look for what some people have called an “anchor thought”—a short verse, phrase, or even just a word that I can speak under my breath when the chaos of the day starts to erupt. And you know what? The “anchor thought” really does what it says: it keeps me grounded in the truth instead of being tossed about by my circumstances.

This morning I read Psalm 7 and chose to focus on the last part of verse 17: “I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.” Throughout the day when my back started hurting, when there appeared to be a brownie explosion in my kitchen, and when my strong-willed five-year-old was testing boundaries once again, my thought was, I will sing praise; I will sing praise; I will sing praise.

4. Practice Other Spiritual Disciplines

If we are going to partner with the Spirit in our transformation, we have to participate in activities that will help us continually keep our focus on God. While meditation and prayer are spiritual disciplines, perhaps during this season you can ask God if you should include a different one. Maybe you could fast from something, commit to doing a more in-depth Bible study, or spend more time in solitude. (While I would like to practice this last one more regularly, someone always seems to find me.) Ask God and He will show you what to do!

Since the start of the coronavirus, our local church has been fasting on the first Wednesday of the month. While most fast from food, I think we all could benefit from fasting from something that serves as a distraction in our lives, like social media, TV, our phones, or even coffee (ouch!).

Make a Commitment

I’m not sure the coronavirus pandemic will necessarily have an end date, but let’s not lose heart. Join me in asking God to make us twice the women we used to be by transforming us into His likeness. 

May we behold God over any other person, activity, or thing in our lives. Let’s commit to spend more moments praying, renewing our minds with truth, meditating on Scripture, and practicing the spiritual disciplines. As we do, may we be twice the sisters, twice the moms, twice the friends, twice the coworkers, twice the prayer warriors, twice the peacemakers, twice the image-bearers, and twice the glory-shiners for Jesus because like Moses, we have been spending time with God.

Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 1006.

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About the Author

Nicole Furno

Nicole Furno

Nicole Furno has a passion for studying and teaching God’s Word. She worked for years in the medical field as a Physician’s Assistant, but after recently earning a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Moody Theological Seminary, has transitioned into writing women’s discipleship studies and serving in women’s ministry. Nicole loves the excitement of city living in Chicago with her smarty-pants husband and three spunky children.

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