I am certain that in the coming years when you mention 2020, it will have some chilling after thoughts. It has been a year to remember. Many people I know have suffered beyond measure this year. Effects of a pandemic both physically and economically has been a strain on families. Pastoring a church through these waters has been new and never done before. Fear has been instilled in the lives of many people, including unbelievers. But we are not to fear man nor even sickness or persecution,
First of all, God has made every day, and it’s a day the Lord has made, and every day is good. Circumstances may not always be good. But your joy isn’t based on your circumstances. We don’t rejoice in our circumstances, we rejoice in the fact that God, who is sovereign, is in control and directs all thins to work together for the good. We know this. We believe this. We can’t alter this. James 1:2 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” The joy isn’t in the trials but in the one who is in control of those trials. And knowing He is working it out for good, Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Second, tribulations and trials are a part of life under the sun. No one is exempt from them. They come in all forms. It seems at times, there is a rash of events that we consider apocalyptic. I know certain people who have endured suffering events one after another. The world says it’s “bad luck” but luck isn’t a theological concept. Believing in luck denies the sovereignty of God. If you believe in luck, you are believing in an unknown entity of some sort.
The year 2020 has been quite a year. But even though it seems strange to us, it is the divine plan of God. He is bringing about things in order to accomplish His will. I find enormous peace and hope in Daniel 2:21a, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.” Thus, the purpose of God is often accomplished using wicked rulers or tumultuous times. Why God does this, one cannot, in the human sense, make an understanding of it. But consider this, the Old Testament prophesied of Christ, and God placed Herod in charge to accomplish that.
We look at 2020 as some sort of bad year. But as I observe the events that have happened, I look to see the hand of God in all of them. In March of 2020, we did not meet at church for seven weeks. I thought it would hurt us. We met outside in the parking lot the last three Sundays of May, then moved into the gym, and set up a stage and chairs for plenty of social distancing. Since the summer of 2020, we have had 19 people baptized and join our church. The Lord has used hospital sicknesses and stays to draw people, whom have never darkened the door of a church, to Himself. To know that God is not acting on a reactionary basis, but a pre planned purpose to accomplish His will and glorify Himself, is the defining hope of trusting a sovereign God.
When you look at the life of Joseph, you see a man who has endured “bad luck”. No, he hasn’t. Considering all that Joseph endured, it wasn’t as if God was unaware; in fact, He was ordaining each trial to see the end of a matter. We see this in Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” This year has not been a year that God has not ordained every event.
If I may offer up my analysis. The years 2014-2015 were years I will never forget. I was diagnosed with a rare blood plasma disorder, POEMS Syndrome, which required chemo and a stem cell transplant. I was sick and I was dying, but in all of that the Lord worked things out, but I didn’t see that until much later.
Circumstances often bring stress and anxiety. The year 2020 has done that to countless businesses and families. But it’s not abnormal. It happens every year, everyday in life under the sun. The year 2020 has magnified it with media and political cesspool propaganda. Thus, the answer to life’s stressful and anxious times isn’t a government official or leader. The answers, in fact, are in the pages of Holy Scripture.
When anxious times come, do as Charles Spurgeon suggests, “Get alone, and tell the Lord what you want; pour out your heart before him. Do not imagine that God needs any fine language. No, you need not run upstairs for your prayer-book, and turn to a prayer, you will be a long time before you find any stated prayer that will fit you if you are really praying. Pray for what you want just as if you were telling your mother or your dearest friend what your need is. Go to God in that fashion, for that is real prayer, and that is the kind of prayer that will drive away your care.”
The world’s great minds are suggesting taking “in the form of gummy bears, cookies, chocolates and gel capsules, all infused with a dose of cannabis1.” This is the advice of the world. Take an altering drug to combat trouble. The fact is anxiety is a sin. We all worry, and when we worry, that increases more to worry about. Do not turn to edible marijuana, alcohol, or mindless entertainment to cope with the raging hurricane tide surge which drowns hope from your soul. Instead, remember that anxiety is an evil sin, prayer is the only cure, and the God to whom you pray promises peace as in the eye of your storm. Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God goes far beyond the human mind.
As the year 2020 closes, it may be a year that you won’t forget. I know, I have not forgotten the year 2014 or 2015. But it’s a year the Lord has made. And He has made it for a purpose. Our home isn’t here, we press on towards home, where hope is.
1Sheera Frenkel , “The Election’s Over, but Not the Stress. Any Edibles Left?,” The New York Times, 11/25/2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/11/technology/election-anxiety-cannabis-edibles.html?auth=linked-facebook.