It seems that every conversation I find myself in has this sentiment as part of the discussion: “It’s been a crazy year hasn’t it?”
We seem to be looking at one another with disbelief, uncertainty, and discomfort. What do we do when we meet? What can we say? Are we wearing masks, shaking hands, bumping elbows? Do we skate around the issues of injustice, destruction, hopelessness, and mankind divided, seemingly forced to take sides? Even saying “mankind” is currently taking a side. Are we mumbling through conversations because there is fear on every front—fear of misunderstanding or even harm?
I step back from these encounters and think, “What is God doing?” In my lifetime there has never been a year like this one, and we are only halfway through it. I may feel uncertain on many things, but there is one thing I am confident of: He is always doing something. Evil, heartache, or injustice in any form does not come from Him. But He says He can use it for us, His followers. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28). There is no exclusion in that statement.
It doesn’t feel like a lot of good is coming from all that has transpired in the first half of 2020. Even though we see glimmers here and there, the heaviness in our hearts is palpable. But what if God has a plan for us in this year? To shake us up from complacency, to open our eyes, and pull us from life’s distractions? To teach us something that is both incredibly old and seemingly new?
What if God wants to remind us life is fragile? Our days are few. If we really believed that, would we live differently? Would we look to those around us and share our faith in a way we never have before?
What if God wants us to remember we are given each day with no promise of tomorrow? Would we look at our to-do list and remove the unnecessary? Would we turn instead to our family, our friends, our community and invest in their lives rather than our own often unnecessary tasks?
What if God wants us to see past our comfortable world to the injustice of those of another race or culture, who walk a different path and have lived a different life? Would we step up, step in, and ask how we can help? Seek what we can do to make their circumstances better? Are there needs they have that we could meet?
What if God wants us to realize in this world of division that unity is one of the most important aspirations of a Christian’s life? Would we quit bickering among ourselves? Would we put aside our unimportant doctrinal arguments and hold only to “Love the Lord our God and love each other?” Would we seek to look at all sides of a conversation to gain understanding? Would we quit fighting for our side or the other side and look instead to God’s side?
What if God wants us to put aside fear—fear for our health, fear of being misunderstood, fear that taking the hard road is not within our ability? Would we use caution and wisdom, and at the same time realize that fear is a product of the enemy? Would we realize that fear only serves to paralyze and defeat us from all God wants us to do and be?
What if God wants us to learn, grow, and become more like Him in this season of uncertainty? Are we willing? Can we do it?
I don’t know if these things are part of what God wants to teach us in this difficult year, but what I do know is that these are things that God wants us to know, wants us to do, and are principles that, in every year, are truly His.
May we take this year and let it change us, wholly and permanently. May we take this year and become a little more like the God we serve. If we do, we can help restore hope and offer wisdom instead of fear. We can be His hands and feet to a hurting world. I may not have all the answers, but what I do know is this: He wants His children to show this world His unfathomable love. A world which today feels as if it’s spinning out of control. And yet this, too, He will use.
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