Have you heard that 2020 is more challenging, more difficult, and/or more painful than any year we’ve ever experienced? 2020 has certainly been filled with challenges, stresses and stressors. I have lost track of all the many things that have happened or are happening. The events seem to blur into a big heap of trouble. As a nation, we’ve experienced nature’s wrath in storms, earthquakes, flooding, wildfires and more. Our military continues warfighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, South Korea and beyond! As a nation we continue to experience the pandemic and orders/mandates/guidelines/tests/quarantines, postponements and fears/anxieties. Many have lost jobs and others lost pay. Tourism has vanished. Our nation is in the midst of struggles over race, justice, law enforcement, and leadership and riots, looting, shootings and fires. And there are elections coming up for everything from school board to President of the United States.
Wow, what a year it has been, and continues to be and it’s only August.
So is this the most stressful and difficult year ever?
Yes absolutely! It’s never been this bad before. Never!
Unless you were to look at life in the 1918 Spanish Flu and World War I or the Dust Bowl and Great Depression that followed a few years later. World War II began a few years after that and the entire world, including Alaska, was at war.
Our nation has been through extreme civil unrest beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing with the Civil War and in the 1950s and 1960s over Civil Rights and the war in Vietnam.
Why do I bring all this up? I bring this historical (and at times hysterical) perspective only to say that we have made it through very difficult times before.
Take some time to talk with people with experience. And listen. There are, at least, two ways to listen: Listen to respond to what is being said (that’s how many interact on social media) or listen to hear. Listening to hear takes time and focus, but the lessons are fascinating and rewarding.
Finally, I think of a couple of people: Joseph (from the book of Genesis) and Peter (the fisherman formerly known as Simon).
Briefly put, and there’s a wonderful musical that is far more entertaining than I am, Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. Sibling rivalry got the better of his brothers and so they sought first to kill him and then chose to instead sell him. Several events, years and circumstances later, Joseph encounters his brothers from a position of significant power and influence. Does Joseph seek vengeance upon his brothers? No, he forgives and provides.
Peter is called by Jesus (and renamed) to follow him. Jesus preaches, teaches, miraculously heals and provides, and does a great many more things. Peter acts rashly, boldly and at times stupidly (I easily identify with Peter). Later Jesus is captured by religious authorities. Peter, who had boldly proclaimed his loyalty to the end, denies ever knowing Jesus the first time a girl asks him. Jesus is crucified, dead and buried. The story, it would appear ends with his death. But no, Jesus rises from the dead and seeks out his disciples. When Jesus sees Peter, does he condemn Peter? No, he forgives him and empowers him to start his church.
The Bible is filled with powerful experiences of redemption and forgiveness.
So yes, 2020 is a deeply challenging and difficult year, but it is by no means the most difficult. God is at work, though we don’t always understand how. We’re going to get through this and we’ll be stronger for it.
This Insight Article is sponsored by Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Faith Section on August 14, 2020.
Married 25 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting