Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Ahhhhh, 2020 is behind us!!! This means that all the chaos, all the uncertainty, all the anxiety, all the shut-downs, virtual learning, lack of sports, and restrictions on businesses are all behind us right?
Uhhh … maybe not … probably not … highly doubtful actually. As much as we would all probably love to just erase 2020 from our memories, that’s not exactly possible. It was definitely a year for the record books, that’s for sure!
However, amidst all the crazy and extremely unpredictable things which happened in 2020, perhaps this past year taught us a few things.
First, life is uncertain and unpredictable. If we didn’t already know that, we should now, or at least I hope we know that now. Who would have thunk we would have had to deal with a global pandemic which would drastically change everyone’s way of life.
Second, life is valuable. Not being able to spend time with loved ones, whether they be in a nursing home, hospital bed, or a different part of or in a different state altogether should have taught us to not take our family and loved ones for granted.
Third and probably most importantly … God continues to truly bless us. Yes, even through all the craziness, through all the chaos and confusion … God is still right there with us blessing us. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” says Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations (3:22-23a).
Interestingly enough, when Jeremiah wrote those words, he and his fellow Jews were at their lowest. They didn’t feel like they could fall any lower. They had no visible resources. The whole world had declared them a loss. They were thrown back upon their one last resource … the Lord. At the very center of Jeremiah’s lamenting, he breaks out of the gloom by turning his attention to the character of the Lord. Because of the Lord’s great love, God’s people would survive.
Yes, 2020 has been a year none of us want to repeat … but in reality, I’m sure there are things from each year we have lived we wouldn’t want to repeat. As it was said in one of the GriefShare videos I recently watched … “if all we ever do is look in the review mirror, we can never move forward.”
We can look back and see, we can look back and remember all the negative things which 2020 brought us … or … we can look ahead and optimistically look into 2021. Even if you have your doubts about 2021 being any better … we can all look at the one thing we know for sure will be there. The empty cross and the empty tomb!
No matter what, Christ through his blood staining the wood of the cross in his death … your sins are forgiven. No matter what, Christ through his victorious, death defying resurrection … the promise of an eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth is yours. On top of all of that, the steadfast, the unchangeable love of the LORD is also yours! His mercies never come to an end. Now that is something to celebrate … no matter what!
Moving into 2021, focus on that. Focus on the gracious promises of God that He has made to you, His child. Focus on that because it will sustain you when bad things happen. Let’s face it, you will sin. I will sin. You will make mistakes. I will make mistakes. You will say and do things which will upset others, offend others, and hurt others. I will say and do the same things.
When we focus on the cross and the empty tomb, we will be ready to forgive and move forward in love. We will be able to move forward and not allow the challenges to destroy our relationships. As I said in last month’s newsletter, let’s not allow Satan to swing that sledgehammer to hit that wedge which he uses to try to split the church.
Instead, together as a family, as brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Let the love which God pours into you flow out from you to those around you. Let’s love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. Let us also love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37,39).
When we fail living this way, which we will, be ready to forgive each other, just as Christ has forgiven you.
It is the steadfast love of God, the mercies and blessings of God, and the promises of God made through Christ which will get us through not only this coming year, but each and every day of our lives.
God’s continual blessings to each of you and to our church in this new year. And … as I close out a lot of prayers … may all the things we say and do, all be done to the glory of God!