There have been a few memorable years in my life but none have been nearly as challenging as this present year for me personally or professionally. Beginning a little over a year ago my wife and I experienced a few challenges so imagine our surprise when we greeted 2020 and hoped it would be a fresh start after experiencing some difficult times in 2019.
Each of us has stories several stories regarding the year 2020. It has been visited with a pandemic, a chaotic and divisive election season, and isolation, fear, loneliness, and grief. The physical toll and loss of life, and the need to shelter in place are well known. Mental and emotional health has been impacted in numerous ways. Whatever field of endeavor you are in, change has become a constant companion. On top of this, it has lasted quite a bit longer than most of us would have predicted. Not getting caught up in the negativity that is all around us has become a chore. Taking a step back there have been wonderful lessons and blessings as well.
- In the church world, nearly every church has gotten involved with online services as well as prayer meetings and Bible studies. This has increased the reach of each local church as well as reminded us that ministry does indeed happen outside of the building!
- Being confined to our homes has reminded us how important relationships are to us and what a major part of our lives they play.
- God is still on the throne!
- The pandemic has brought to our attention the need for self-care.
- I have been reminded that God does some of His best work in dark places and difficult times.
Allow me to share a few Scriptures that have helped me as I have repeatedly look to them for comfort and strength:
“Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10
“But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast
because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
This barely skims the surface of Biblical encouragement. I am sure you have a couple of favorite go-to verses.
Some of you have had incredible obstacles to face this past year: sickness, disease, the loss of loved ones, the loss of employment, fear, discouragement, and a tremendous sense of loss. It is alright to feel sad. It is proper and appropriate to seek out the help that is needed. Everyone needs to make sure they are not only helping others but getting proper help for themselves.
During this Advent season, which is a time for hope, our Hope is in Christ. Encouragement does not come just from the fact that this difficult year is nearly over. We have no idea what is ahead in 2021. Our peace and joy is grounded in our faith in the Messiah who has come and who promised that He will come again!
Be encouraged and take time to encourage others! He is come and He is coming again!