There is no doubt that this year has brought many challenges. From living through a global pandemic, the continued fight against racial injustices, job losses, serious political division, and the inability to see and visit some of our loved ones. It’s been a tough year, but it has not taken God by surprise.
The upside of all this stuff is that many of us have spent more time with close family members. We’ve been able to do those projects we kept putting off because we were too busy. We've had Zoom calls, and drive-through birthday parades. Parents have gained an appreciation for teachers and we've somehow found creative ways to bring joy in the midst of uncertainty. We’ve been able to throw out the insignificant things and the busyness of life and focused on what we needed to do to sustain and protect ourselves.
1. How to Fix Our Eyes on Christ
This pandemic has been difficult to navigate. As we watch numbers fluctuate, mandates change, and political division take place throughout our country, it can be easy to become discouraged; God is still in control even if we can't see it in the midst of the storm.
We have learned to keep our eyes on Him.
Revelation 21:6 NLT And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
2. How to Love in a Crisis
This time is showing us the importance of loving our neighbors as we do ourselves.
Matthew 22:37, 39-40 NLT Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
We all have a part to play in this fight and we not only have to look after ourselves but also our neighbors to get through this together.
3. How to Care for Our Minds and Spirits
This year has also been a reminder of the importance of mental and spiritual health. Wear a mask social distance, wash our hands, be open to talk about racial inequality; many of these things are new for most of us. We have to fight harder to be mentally and spiritually strong. We need to figure out how much news is healthy and at the same time keep our eyes on the things above.
Colossians 3:1-4 NLT Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we can be confident that He is our source and shield and He will get us through this season.
Psalms 18:2 NLT The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
We have to stay rooted in the word of God and allow this time to build our faith.
Colossians 2:6-7 NIV So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
In times like these when we're not sure of how and when God is going to move, we have to stand on the hope that He will move and turn it all around.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
As we watch or read the news in this we can’t allow the events to cause us to lose hope in the future.
Instead, let’s stand on faith and wait expectantly for God to turn it around.
Psalms 25:3 NLT No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
5. How 2020 Has Highlighted Racial Injustices
In the midst of this pandemic, a racial movement has swept through our country. Awareness of racism and injustices have been elevated.
Racism is a heart issue, and in order to address the heart, we have to willingly invite God in to do the work. If you have been experiencing this, ask God to search your heart, and reveal anything that is not like Him.
Psalms 139:23-24 NLT.Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
In 2020 people are finally acknowledging and taking ownership of the problem and most are working for change. Books on racism are selling quickly as more and more people are committed to understanding what they have been blind to see.
Yes 2020 has been quite a year and it's not over. It has been a tough year --- yet a necessary year. It has revealed many of the underlying issues that have persisted—division, racism, selfishness, pride, and so much more.
We have been the opportunity to see things for what they truly are. This year has given us a chance to really be the church while the doors are closed. It has shown us how we have so much to learn from one another in order to advocate for the oppressed. It has allowed us to put our differences aside to truly display how we can love our neighbor, even if we have opposing views or look differently.
As hard as this year has been, you can seen things through a new lens, the lens of love, the lens of Christ.
Philippians 4:8 NLT And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Let's be honest and acknowledge that there is an enemy behind all of the fear, anxiety, greed, hate, and other negative thoughts and actions. Whatever your perspective that enemy, force, or spirit, would like to divide and conquer us. That enemy is the devil, Satan. He would love for us to not come together during this time and disrupt the progress taking place.
1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Lets not fail those who will come behind us by missing what we have learned and will learn in 2020.
We can start by;
- Being appreciative of our communities, life, and the small things we have taken for granted.
- Truly seeing everyone in the image of God.
- Being slow to speak and listen attentively to understand the hearts of those who are hurting.
- Standing for something but not allowing our views to prohibit us from respecting others.
- Seeking to learn more about God’s character instead of only coming to Him when we’re in need.
- Seeing each day as a gift.
- Walking in and seeking wisdom and knowledge every day.
Proverbs 4:7 NCV Wisdom is the most important thing; so get wisdom. If it costs everything you have, get understanding.
- Never give up
Galatians 6:9-10 NLT So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
These difficult times will pass so let's focus and commit to seek God and His will for direction.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.