Updated: May 6, 2021
When 2020 dawned, there were books released and messages preached about the "vision" for the upcoming year. We were hopeful; excited. But our happy anticipation gave way to disappointment very quickly. In the span of eight months we have seen wildfires, earthquakes, a global pandemic, economic shutdowns, business and school closures, political wars, new and confusing mandates, devastating tornadoes, police brutality, varying kinds of injustice, rioting in the streets, looting and arson, racial tension, and catastrophic hurricanes. In eight mere months, behind the memes and the "2020 Vision" jokes, there have been very real problems mingled with very raw pain.
People responded to the changes in different ways. When faced with a global virus, some churches completely closed their doors. Other churches have kept assembling together and have stood boldly for their First Amendment right to worship freely without fear. When confronted with social justice issues, some Christians chose to follow trends and hashtag movements as a means of affirming that all ethnicities are equal in value. Others have chosen to affirm that truth in other ways that do not violate their conscience and, as a result, have been victims of bullying because of it. Some Christians have forfeited Biblical love in favor of unleashing their own smear campaign over issues like face masks and black squares. Some Christians have chosen humility and self-sacrifice as a means of ministering to their weaker brother/sister.
Suffice it to say, this year has been one long season of confusion, frustration and unrest. The questions are many. What else is going to happen? Can it get any worse? How much more of this is God going to allow? Where is God in all of this? What are we supposed to do? Habakkuk 3:17-19 gives us an answer:
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
That passage may sound irrelevant in light of street riots and hurricanes, but let's look closer. Let us listen with our hearts to the message in God's Word. To put it plainly, though our livelihoods may be destroyed and everything that was once sweet is now rotten; though the storm surges and the economy falls and everything we are familiar with is gone, I will make the choice to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice, Christian.
Paul wrote that our days would get harder, the nights would turn darker, and people would worship self and wealth and would reject the truth. He painted a vivid portrait of man's increasing state, warning us that people would be more arrogant and abusive, ungrateful, heartless, brutal, reckless and unappeasable (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Paul told us that men and women would have a faint shape of godliness but would be empty and void of anything real and holy. That sounds like 2020.
How can we rejoice about that? Why should we rejoice about that?
As a Christian, my heart is grieved when I hear of lives that are broken and lives that are lost. When I see the injustice and the hatred for goodness, my heart beats with passion to defend the victims. Many Christians feel the same. But I too often look with eyes that see only the temporal instead of with eyes that keep looking further into eternity. Yes, the Christian is heartbroken over the cruelty and the devastation in the world. Yes, the Christian grieves and aches with those who bury their loved ones. But the Christian also knows that beyond this life on earth, our real home awaits where the trials and storms and fears and uncertainties and loss will be gone, wiped away forever. Jesus encouraged His followers 2,000 years ago not to be alarmed when the world was in chaos. He told us that nations would be at each other's throats, that people would revel in their lawlessness and that the followers of Christ would be tormented, persecuted, hunted and killed. And He said when we see these things, to rejoice because that means we are so much closer to seeing Him and worshipping Him for all eternity.
The unrest around us is hard. But hard things create a deeper longing for heaven's glory. Loss on earth loosens our grip on the temporal and makes us cling hard to what is eternal.
So rejoice, Christian. He is coming soon. And what awaits us will be more than we could ever imagine.
To go deeper, study: Matthew 24; Romans 8; 2 Timothy 3; James 1; Colossians 3; 1 Thessalonians 5;