Yeah, you probably know where this is going. Or at least, have a few educated guesses.
I’ll be honest. 2020 has not been the worst year of my life. (For those interested, that was 2017, but that’s its own story.) But 2020 hasn’t been the greatest either. Some say that these problems came out of nowhere. Maybe they did. But honestly, I feel that the current state of affairs with many things was already a problem. We just didn’t notice it until now.
But anyway, 2020 has been an interesting year (take that phrasing as you may) and there’s things that I’ve learned, many of them the hard way, during the past few months. Many of these lessons I’ve had to learn before in the past, but it still makes it no easier to go through the same thing again.
I’m certain that 2020 has meant cancellations of at least something for you. Whether it’s school, college, competitions, graduations, performances, recitals, whatever you name it, they’ve been cancelled. For some of us, some of those things were bearable. I still might be able to compete and perform next year before college. But other things, like my last year of church camp, are cancelled. Just like that. And I know I’m not the only one and that many have suffered worse.
I have always hated saying goodbye. Honestly. It traumatizes me, especially when I know I might never see this person again. And knowing my it was last year of church camp is very painful for me. Through camp and our youth rallies, I have made some of the closest and dearest friends in my life and they mean the world to me. I have been afraid of having to say goodbye to them, wondering whether our last year would be a disappointment or the best year yet.
Spoiler: it didn’t even happen.
But, as hard as that is to accept, it’s still okay. I know God is in control, and if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that He knows what’s best for my life. That just happened not to be POH Camp 2020. I’ve cried hard about it, and I probably still will at times. I’m not bitter, but it still hurts.
And I think that will be that way for many people. Loss is difficult. It pains us, the greater the loss, the more devastating the hurt. But the beautiful, bittersweet fact is that no matter how great the hurt is, it can heal. It won’t go away, but it will scar over and it won’t hurt so sharply. It will still hurt, but it won’t be as bad.
That was only one lesson.
Another one for me to learn was to not only trust God and His purposes for my life, but to trust His timing.
As some of you know, I was offered a publishing contract earlier this year. Which I had to turn down because reasons. I went from floating among the clouds to being brought down to the bottom of the earth by the realization I couldn’t accept their conditions. I didn’t understand why I could come so close only to fall short. I only knew I had to trust God and His plans for me that this particular press just wouldn’t work.
If any of you have dealt with the querying side of writing, you know how discouraging it can be to receive rejection after rejection. If any of you have had a publishing deal fall through, you know that that pain is even worse.
But, like everything else, I’ve had to trust God with that. Learn to trust His timing and to pray about any future publishing possibilities first before acting. I know God’s timing is best (theoretically), but praying for His wisdom and trusting His timing with EVERYTHING is something very new to me and is another lesson I’m having to learn in 2020.
During the last couple of weeks, our family with a great many others has been doing a study on Joseph, the patriarch of the Old Testament. Hands-down, it is probably been the most beneficial Bible study I’ve done in my life. Though so familiar with Joseph’s story, I learned so much that I never realized before, and it’s really taught me a lot about trusting God.
I’ve grown up in a Christian home. I know the Bible stories. I’ve read missionary biographies of people who trusted God completely. And for many years it was always “yeah, that’s cool” without realizing I could (and would have to learn to) trust God in the same way. 2016 marked the beginning of years of struggling with anxiety and depression—among other things. If anything, learning to trust God and His sovereignty is the only reason I’m still alive and not dead by suicide or eating disorders or whatnot.
Joseph trusted God, that God was in control of his life and would work all things for his good, even though hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, betrayed and thrown into prison, only to be forgotten by his only hope of escape. And yet he remained faithful to his God, trusting that He would perform what He had promised. Guess what? Joseph ended up being second in the kingdom and the one who brought about deliverance for his family, saving the Messianic line of Christ.
Though I’ve been through hard times, I’ve not gone through anything like Joseph did. Or Job, for that matter. But the lesson is still the same.
God is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is in control of all circumstances.
If there’s anything I’m learning through 2020, it is that. 2020, from my flawed, human perspective, is completely screwed up. The future, though always bleak, has looked darker than it ever has been.
But the darkest hour in the history of the world was not 2020. Or 2017. It was when the Creator and Sustainer of the universe hung on the cross and bore the wrath of His Father for the sins of the world.
‘”And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he calleth Elias.” And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, “Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.” And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”‘
~ Mark 15:33-39
The good news is, that story doesn’t end there. After three days in the grave, Jesus rose again from the dead and lives to provide intercession for His people and their sins. He is the reason we have hope for the future, no matter how bleak it gets.
2020 may get worse than it already is. To be fair, it most likely will get worse. But we have hope that one day soon “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4.)
This is the reason we can trust in God. The Bible is full of stories about how close He is to His people and how He uses ALL the events in their lives for their ultimate good, whether it’s Joseph or you or me. He is still in control of 2020 and of your life. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my own life so far, it’s that God knows what He’s doing. We just have to trust them. Yes, it’s not as easy as it seems, but God is still trustworthy.
Whatever the future holds, trust God. He knows what He’s doing.