A childhood friend of mine is walking the road of cancer with her young son. She openly admits that this is not what she would have chosen for her family; she says it’s hard and painful and bewildering at times. But she smiles and speaks with confident joy about the work that she knows God is accomplishing for His glory. I am both convicted and inspired by her testimony.
Had I been allowed to select the events for the year, I would not have chosen lockdowns or masks or a nation in turmoil; I would not have selected natural disasters or the death of a loved one or depression; I would not have asked for my church to close or for illness and injury to strike my family. Instead, I would have reached for flowers and rainbows, smiles and laughs, cozy family time, babies and heaps of ice cream. I would have added business success and a smooth routine in my home, and most certainly amiable children who are eager to do whatever I ask them. And I would have included ample time for me to sit and read and write to my heart’s content.
As the prophet of old wrote in Lamentations: “…My groans are many and my heart is faint.” I could give you a list of personal reasons why this year “stinks, stank, stunk.” I vividly remember welcoming it in and most of me won’t be grieving when I bid it farewell. But I wonder if this is the attitude Jesus wants me to have; after all, if He is Lord of my life then doesn’t that mean He has allowed the events of each day to happen for my good? I can understand why the world at large is fed up with 2020 but does that mean I must respond in like manner? Perhaps I should take a different approach.
Perhaps I should make a list of all the ways I have been blessed this year; perhaps I should take note of how I am leaning into God as I am confronted with my weaknesses; perhaps I should ponder how I can only witness God move mountains if they are in front of me; perhaps I should admit that coming through hardship does make me stronger; perhaps I should acknowledge that I only want to accept good from God and not trouble, yet the most growth happens during the trouble.
And so, with these reflections in mind, as I pull out my 2021 planner and reach for my pen, I want to humbly thank the Lord for the year 2020. In the throes of its unique chaos, He proved Himself faithful; He didn’t shield me from pain or confrontation with my wretchedness but He proved that He loves me in the midst of it; when I felt overwhelmed, lost and confused He reminded me of His constancy.
Why 2020? I needed to experience God in the intensity of life. I needed to despair and be rescued by Him. I needed to be afraid and be soothed by Him. I needed to mourn and be comforted by Him. I needed to fall and be picked up by Him. I needed to think I had nothing left and discover that I still have everything.