24 Nov 2020

Finding Strength from 2020

Nathan Camp

"2020."

By now, that is starting to sound like an adjective. If something is described as "2020", it's difficult, chaotic, unnerving. And let's be honest, much of 2020 has felt that way. From the global pandemic to the social unrest to the tumultuous elections, 2020 has been like no other year. We've all hurt and grieved and had more questions than answers. And, for many of us, as we are just a few weeks from the end of the year, it's our greatest desire to just get out of 2020 as fast as we can and never look back. But, here's my advice on that:

That would be a major mistake!

Because it's in these days of trial and struggle and anxieties and challenges that, if we will take the time to see it, God has been working all along. He's been doing what He has always done: preparing tables in the presence of our enemies. On that table, He placed the peace you needed when you thought fear would overtake you. Or the right word of guidance at a moment when you didn't know where to go. Maybe it was the encouragement of a friend. Or the sense of His presence that allowed you to fall asleep with so much swirling anxiety, giving you assurance He is ultimately in control.

When you remember these things, you'll see the truth: God did show up in 2020! For you. For me. For our churches and congregations. Yes, the struggles are real. There is no making light of that. But, we can - and should - be making much of Jesus and His faithful leadership over this last year.

What I suggest we do, even as we start tearing off some of the final pages of that wall calendar, is to take the time to stop and reflect. To pause and to listen. To allow God to show us where He was, what He did, and who He has been on your behalf through this year. The verse "Be still and know that I am God…" is often quoted, but truthfully, very rarely followed. I think we can miss where God has been at work because we are too busy working ourselves.

But what if we ended this year differently? What if, before we so passionately run into the New Year looking for the clean slate, we paused for a few moments?

What if, in that stillness, we ask God a few whispered questions:

  1. Where were You this year?
  2. What have You been doing?
  3. What did I miss that I needed to see?

And then, we took the time to listen.

It's my guess that the One who loves you will show you His divine attentiveness to you, those you love, and your city. If you pause long enough, you will see Him in stories you thought He had been absent, places where you didn't know He was, and scenes from your life that felt so lonely. You will note that there too, He was faithful.

Perhaps that moment of reflection could be spent with a journal and a pen, and, as He takes you through the stories of this year, you can capture His narrative. Maybe this could reveal to you the testimony of the Lord Himself at work in your life.

And maybe, with each story written, you can stop and thank Him.

Thank Him that your church still moved forward and the gospel still advanced.

Thank Him that you are still called, even when the times are hard (maybe especially in the hard times.)

Thank Him for your victories, that sometimes just looked like not giving up.

Thank Him for holding you up in ways you hadn't seen before.

In all that He shows you, thank Him.

Something happens when we stop and acknowledge God for where He has been and refuse to move forward until we have given Him His due response—the response of a grateful heart. It refuels our faith, inspires us to dream again, and gives us courage for the days ahead.

The truth is, there is no trial in which He was not present. What we will see and learn again of the Lord is that He was in that valley, in the battle, catching our tears and being an "ever-present help in time of trouble."

And that's the story you want captured.

Because more than you'll want your Facebook and Instagram feeds reminding you of what happened this year, it is this book of remembrance, pages of God's faithfulness, that you can pull out again and again in the years to come.

And as you read over those pages, lifting your eyes and heart and hands to heaven, you will be empowered to say, "God, you are ever-faithful. You have always been with me. I can trust You through it all."

Friend, God is still moving. Even in 2020. He is not hindered. He is not afraid. He is not confused. I believe He is peeking into your next year, and even with Him being aware of the trials and struggles ahead, He is, with passion in His heart, daring you to trust His faithfulness. He is urging you to go into this next year with the victories of this present year still fresh in your mind, knowing that He who is faithful in 2020 will be faithful in the days to come.

Stop. Pause. Listen. Celebrate. Move Forward.

Such is the path of those who will not miss all that God has done in 2020.

Crossing the Finish Line for the Year

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Blessings,
Raul Rivera


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