2020… 2021

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“… all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.” Psalm 136:16b

Here we sit on the cusp of a 2021! What will it hold?

I’m usually incredibly optimistic about the changing of years. I love new starts and the opportunities they provide for us to do things differently, or simply to try again. But I felt that way about 2020, too. I’m not convinced I would have willingly traveled down this 2020 road if I had known what was on it.

Perhaps I should have had a clue when I came down with the flu on New Year’s Day, finally recovering eight days later only to fall hard on the ice at the church hours before my mother had a stroke? Maybe I should have guessed what was coming when my husband’s multiple myeloma started to peek out of a short-lived and hard-fought remission in February (which resulted in a stem cell transplant in July and months of recovery with a biblical plague worth of side effects)? I certainly should have figured it out by March when we were all rushing to re-invent every aspect of congregational life every day as the parameters of living kept shifting dramatically. But that’s just me.

The world has had a much harder time of 2020 with the wildfires, various wars and military conflicts, the growing pandemic, every kind of political and social upheaval, entire countries and industries shut-down, global financial markets cascading, tens of thousands of deaths – all before May when the killing of George Floyd released months of national and worldwide protests against racism and police brutality. Add in the U.S. political turmoil and elections, numerous acts of terrorism worldwide, hurricanes, tornados, fires, explosions, earthquakes, volcanos, killer hornets, et cetera (any number of which in a “regular” year would have made headlines for more than a minute), plus nearly two million deaths from Covid 19 and 2020 officially becomes the worst year in memory.

I can honestly say I didn’t see any of this coming, but God did. Psalm 136 reads that,
“… all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” I find this an incredibly comforting thought: knowing that God – the God who is love – ordained all of our days before they came to be. Comforting because it means that our lives are safely in God’s good hands even when everything is not good.

I won’t lie to you. This has been the hardest year of my life in every way. More than once I have thought about quitting everything and lying down somewhere warm and beautiful and never getting back up. I can bet that I’m not alone, but this hasn’t been a year that I would have bet on.

Yet I have learned this year that when everything is precarious, blowing up and falling down, God has a plan. I have learned that God is not anxious and I don’t have to be either. I have learned that trusting God is an intentional act of my will. I have learned that my responsibility to others stretches far beyond myself, my home, my church, my neighborhood, my state, my country. I have learned that my heart is deceitfully wicked when it comes to toilet paper, politics, and race. I have learned that God’s power and grace are enough for everyone and every single thing that has or can or will happen.

As we peer through the door of 2021, I cannot imagine what this new year holds, but I trust that it holds more than we can imagine, good and bad. The one thing I am sure of is that God has this and us.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27