Back in February 2020, just before COVID-19 became the harsh reality in the U.S., my son got sick for almost a month. It was a frightening time, a sobering time, but this was the time God used to open my eyes and deepen my faith.
During that time, I literally was clinging to God each moment, grasping at people’s prayers, breathing in God’s Word to sustain me. The likelihood of death loomed, so imminent and heavy, and I felt alone, like no light could pierce it. Each night when I closed my eyes, I felt crushed, as if a physical weight was bearing down on me. Yet amidst all that, there was a tiny flicker of hope. The weight was unbearable, yet I felt his presence. Each time my mind jerked toward despair and darkness, I felt his presence comfort and calm. One more minute, the next five minutes. And the next, and the next.
Finally, a few days short of a month, my son’s fever came down to a low-grade fever. Then, it continued to drop down to normal. He was still weak, but slowly, surely, his body came back to normal. Thankfully, mercifully, God had healed him, and in that process, he was healing me too.
As we all know, after coming back from a normal Christmas season the end of 2019, 2020 hit. And just like the unexpected illness of my son, it hit hard. COVID-19. Surreal. Impossible. But it happened.
Then on the heels of COVID-19, there were protests and impossible images of hate and chaos. Dust storms. Anger, and fear.
As my heart struggled with various emotions — as many of you may have — initially, happiness at being able to spend more time with my family, then cabin fever, then alternating between thankfulness at having extra time (something which I hadn’t experienced ever since becoming a parent) and anxiety, fear, and even, at times, hopelessness, loneliness, and depression . . . as I struggled with these feelings, things slowly came back to focus and I started navigating the “new normal”.
The “new normal” was all things not normal . . . family members and friends ill or even passed away. Well-known Christians and artists recanting their faith. Natural disasters, human disasters and chaos. And yet, yet . . .
In spite of all this travail and turmoil, some good has come about:
- more time for reflection on the meaning of life, and — hopefully — the true things of God.
- realization of the value of friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, neighbors.
- desire and hunger to walk more intimately with God, and be filled with his Holy Spirit, every day.
God is doing something new. I’ve felt it, and some of my Christian friends have mentioned it as well. Are we ready? He’s shaking things up in 2020, so that the things that are not worth staying get shaken out, and the things that are worth keeping remain. He’s giving us a “2020” vision — clarity to think about: What things in my life was important? What wasn’t? What do I live for?
The events of 2020 has caused me to repent of my sins, the wrong things I’ve done. I’d prioritized the wrong things . . . I hadn’t prioritized God. I’ve prioritized relationships outside the family, being wasteful with resources and time, and excused myself when I lost patience. My fuzzy focus suddenly clarified: I had time now to reflect. To get decent sleep. To spend decent time with my family. To make decent meals. To make time to pray, and read the Bible.
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, neighbors, all: we are closer than ever to the return of Christ. No one knows the day or hour, but we know the season. And one thing that is certain is — the day is closer, not farther.
If you don’t know him yet, know He loves you. Jesus died for you, to save you. And then He rose from the dead, because death has no hold on him. All you need to do is to pray, ask for forgiveness for the wrong you’ve done, and ask him to be with you forever. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
If you are a Christian, but fallen away, there’s hope. A Christian is not someone who is perfect, but someone who, may be beaten and fall down 100 times, but gets up 101 times. If being a Christian has become more of a religion than a relationship, repent, and seek Jesus. He is near and He loves you, more than you can imagine. We just need to depend on him. Ask for his Holy Spirit, and strive to walk daily, intimately, each day with Him.
The time is short . . . you don’t need to look at the headlines to see things rapidly going downhill. Even my own life, and I’m sure many of yours, have more than its own share of trials and sufferings . . . but remember, these are only for a time. They do have an end, so please cling to hope. One day at a time.
People have always told me, “God doesn’t give trials more than you can handle.” Actually, though, many times trials come which are more than we can handle. (Talk to any number of people who have gone through unimaginable suffering, more than what the average person you know goes through). What God promises, though, is that He goes through it with us. He is a compassionate God, loving, and forgiving — we can call on him. He is also holy, so hates sin, because sin mars us. So God took care of sin by having Jesus take the punishment — we only need to accept Jesus’ sacrifice to be holy — and not take the consequences of sin ourselves!
God is doing something this year. May we all stop — and listen — every day — to what he is telling us. Then respond.
Remember — He loves you and he is for you!