It seems like lunacy to look into the pain of the last 18 months and think a gift from God is hidden somewhere in all the suffering. There is a hidden gift. It is the gift of exposure.
This exposure takes place when we come to see what is actually in our hearts. It is rarely voluntary. Most of us are forced by pain into this place of revelation. A religious spirit and its institutions allow us to mask whatever the fear of exposure is trying to hide. We will quote David in the Psalms, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23), yet never really engage that petition on a personal level because we don’t want to see the darker aspects of our interior life. So, we avoid exposure until a painful season thins us out and we finally see our fears in living color.
Exposure’s fearful vulnerability is not limited to an individual experience. It happens in government, in the institutions of society, and within the Church. It makes people nervous. As our sense of vulnerability increases so will our defense of the status quo that enabled our fear to hide and breed in secret. Nervous people entrench. Those who challenge that entrenchment are considered rebels and given labels so the ones who fight against exposure can dismiss their uncomfortable revelation.
As I look back in history, I think of names like Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others who challenged a nervous and fearful Church who many times supported the very things God wanted to eradicate from our midst so we could represent the heart of God to our world. The Church has an uncanny ability to remove itself from places of uncomfortable exposure. The result of that removal is an expression of faith unable to bridge the gap between a safe and manageable Sunday morning experience to one that steps over that divide to engage all spheres of culture to bring real change.
In the last year, we have been exposed by God. The exposure can come in our heated interactions with each other, or by an incessant need to always challenge an opposing view on social media, or simply walking away from it all in frustration and not engaging our shared brokenness. If these become our preferred ways to deal with an uncomfortable exposure, we will not experience the benefits of the verse immediately following the psalm of David quoted above.