A dumpster fire on a runaway train.
Unprecedented. Omnishambles. Hellacious.
Covid 19. Social distancing. Mask debates. Murder Hornets. Riots/protests. RV bombs. Horded toilet paper. Project Warp Speed. Sociopaths with microphones. Russian, no, Chinese, no, Russian hackers. Budweiser hand sanitizer? Closed restaurants. WFH. “Did you have that on your 2020 Bingo Card?” Zoom. “You’re on mute.” Your car needs a new motor.
AD2020 has been something else, right?
How many ways have you grumped about 2020? We have been creative about it, sure. Not outright complaining, right? A local public radio station here launched a “Drive to end 2020.” Yes, it’s a year-end fundraising effort, but the announcer always says “end” with a bit of menace.
The other day at work, my friend Lynn asked the socially-distanced lunch room, “What from this year do you want to keep?” My glass was less than half empty that day, and I couldn’t come up with a single thing.
No secret here: I have missed the familiar rhythms and relationships of life. Friendly hugs in church on Sunday, eating inside a restaurant, travelling somewhere to teach, missing the annual visit to my Alaska family, going to the gym to row a few miles, dropping in at a friend’s house without checking to see if anyone has a fever. . . I couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer immediately, but the question has continued to nag at me.
I am going to preach to myself here a bit, so feel free to look over my shoulder. I’ll be including some quotes from Corrie Ten Boom that have impacted me this year as I reflect on this. Corrie was a Dutch national imprisoned by the Nazi regime for the crime of protecting Jews. She lost her father and sister to the horror of the concentration camps, but lived to tell her story of Jesus’ sustaining love in the darkest of pits. You can read her autobiography, The Hiding Place. 2020 hasn’t been a concentration camp, but it has felt at times like a prison (with wifi, sunshine, and grocery delivery, to be sure.)
Lisa, your hope is not in a new calendar year, in a break from work, or in a vaccine to end the pandemic. Hope is the strong confidence in the promises and work of a good God. Your hope is not that changes will come in your circumstances, but that your heart rests where it should.
When a train goes through the tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw your ticket away and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.Corrie Ten Boom, from Jesus is Victor
Your God has planned 2020. There is nothing outside of His control, and He knows what is best. That change in the rhythm of life? The reduction in travel? The impact of the virus? All wrapped up in His goodness and work.
Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.The Hiding Place, p.12
In light of God’s promises and plans, settle down and quit grumping. Remember Paul in prison: “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” Remember Corrie’s sister Betsy in the Nazi concentration camp: “Do you know what I am thankful for?” (The Hiding Place, p. 198). Has 2020 been uncomfortable and puzzling? Yes, but God has not changed, and you get to show His goodness and sustaining power to a world that doesn’t know Him. Buck up.
So, what do I want to keep from this year? Good question, Lynn. I am grateful for more time to read and cook, thankful for discomfort to shine a light on my selfishness, glad for opportunities to think outside my normal circumstances to bring a smile to someone else. I am thankful for the reminder that “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trials.” He reminds me that He is “a hiding place for me.” I have grown to love my church as I see my pastors labor to bear the burdens of the year and shepherd the body. I’m glad to be able to support local businesses in hard times. My parents’ steadfastness in trusting God’s sustaining power has been sweet.
All in all, it’s been a pretty good year, not because it has been easy, but because God is good in 2020.