It seems at my age, time no longer drags; it flies, even when things are not going well. Can it really be ten months since our worlds were rocked by a virus whose name we barely knew? It has been a year we never in our wildest dreams imagined 12 months ago as we stood on the cusp of 2020. Most will remember it as a terrible, or, at the very least, a very inconvenient year where our routines and traditions were upset and normalcy was hard to find. Early on, there was chaos in the stores, then later in the streets, and, finally, in our election. There were many deaths, and much stress and depression due to grief, loneliness, and economic hardship. Yes, 2020, by most accounts, was a bad year and tonight, when we say good-bye to it, we will most like say, good riddance!
Yet, there are two passages of Scripture that come to mind when I reflect on 2020. First, there is this encouragement,
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
And then there is this hopeful perspective,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
As I have often admitted, for much of my life I was a “the glass is half empty” kind of guy. I am oh so much better now, but that still is my bent. Thus, it would be easy for me to join the throngs who only want to focus on the bad things of 2020, but I want to resist that because, in fact, a lot of good has come out of this challenging year.
In a broad perspective, I have heard of many of our fellow citizens who have shown great courage in the face of adversity—medical personnel in hospitals working long hours, often with inadequate resources and facing risk of infection; restaurant owners and employees using their skills to feed people in need; ordinary people with plenty helping out those with very little; election workers in many states who worked long hours for days on end to ensure a fair election despite protests and harassment. The list can go on and on. We witnessed goodness and generosity, often at a great cost.
In my own life, 2020 has deepened my relationship with the Lord, probably more than any other year, except for the year I surrendered my life to him. There are a couple reasons for that. First, 2020 was preceded by two tumultuous years, which encouraged my dependence on the Lord. Thus, in many respects, I was spiritually prepared for a pandemic, though I didn’t see it coming. When it arrived, I truly had a peace from above. I didn’t worry, but rather entrusted myself, my wife, and my ministry to the Lord. And he was faithful to provide for us—financially, emotionally, and spiritually. The lesson I learned long ago, but of which I continually need to be reminded, was reinforced this year—the Lord rewards faithfulness and obedience.
Second, the loss of control of so much this year led to humility. When one loses control over the circumstances of life, there are two choices: 1) double down and try to get control or 2) humble one’s self before the Lord and cry out for help. I chose the latter. This opened up opportunities for the Lord to do deeper work in my life. He revealed long-held fears and unforgiveness. He showed me the depths of his mercy, even for those who had hurt me. This led to a much deeper contentment in life and much less anxiety.
As a result, as bad as it has been for so many, I still consider 2020 a good year for me. I believe it will be a marker for years to come as I continue to reflect on the Lord’s work in my life.
Although this year may not have been as good of a year for you as it was for me, I hope you will still be able to see the good that came out of it. As we say good-bye to 2020, instead of good riddance, may it be with gratitude for the all the good the Lord has done in the midst of all the challenges and tragedies.
Until next year. . .
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011.