The year 2020 has created such a downward emotional spiral that everyone keeps trying to guess what will go wrong next. January seemed to take forever, and then February added tension and whispers of problems. March brought the COVID-19 pandemic to our doorstep, and April ushered in all its consequences. Just when everyone had absorbed the immediate impact of the economic devastation created by government mandate in response to the pandemic, social unrest, rioting, and general anarchy invaded the streets of our cities. As CDC guidelines shifted on a tremendous learning curve week to week, tensions skyrocketed further. Decades-long friendships disintegrated over the question of wearing masks. Christians began questioning one another’s integrity based upon varied responses to health orders and government recommendations. Before long, cancel culture emerged with a vengeance, indiscriminately attacking statues, traditions, and anything else that held some attachment to the past. Then, still reeling from the incessant drumming of partisans eager to make some point, the pandemic numbers surged followed by summer hurricane season. (That is to say nothing of murder hornets!) Sporting events have returned but with constant reminders that life is different. The hospitality industry has only begun to feel the devastation, while the airline industry limps along, just trying to survive. The fact that all this has occurred during a major election cycle seems only fitting. That may sound like a lot of negativity in a small amount of space, but it should lead us to an important perspective. Despite how much this year has changed our lives temporarily, more than anything, it should strengthen our resolve to find ways to overcome its challenges and make the future brighter than the past.
Some people treat all of the problems we have experienced as an opportunity to take advantage of others, prey on their vulnerabilities and insecurities, and force them to capitulate or at least to compromise on their principles. For these the Proverbs offer an important reminder: “Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not plunder his resting place; For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity” (Prov. 24:15-16). No matter how difficult an economic downturn might prove to be, no matter how immoral society might become, and no matter how dangerous the world is, the righteous can rise again. Laws may change, and injustice might prevail, but the righteous can rise again. Evil may seem invincible in the moment, but it is self-destructive in the end. “Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked; For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out” (Prov. 24:19-20). So many Christians have placed their hope in politics and economics instead of in Jesus Christ. The LORD sent problems and plagues to Israel on many occasions to persuade them to return to Him. And while such a divine decree for today does not exist, the eternal call of the gospel—with its good news and hope—always will.
The year 2020 may indeed define itself as a year of calamity, but it should never define God’s people. Unfortunately, many have allowed the challenges of the moment to become the mindset of the future. When this happens we begin doing less for God rather than more. We begin closing ourselves off from people rather than opening up to them. We begin accepting the limitations imposed by Satan for the moment and fail to appreciate the blessings offered by God in the future. We need to learn the value of resilience. We should not simply hope to return to how things were; we should immediately begin planning on how to make them better than they were. We ought to accept the reality of the moment by meeting it headlong with the faith of eternity. As I write, we likely have a number of dark days ahead of us. But, my friends, if we will not just stay strong but rather determine to emerge stronger, we can still live every day with vigor and purpose until the time that the light shines around us once again. In the meantime, remember this, “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10). Therefore, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Jsh. 1:9).