I can’t believe it. We are already one-quarter of the way through this first year of this bright new decade.
Three months into the big, promising new year of 2020, and what has happened???!!!!! Are we in a mess, or are we in the most life-changing, promising time of our lives? It really depends on how we look at it, huh?
My word of the year for 2020, chosen back in November of 2019, when things in my personal life were plunging into a downward spiral was ASSURANCE. God spoke that word to me, telling me that no matter how things were seeming, HE assures me always of HIS love, strength, and provision. It can seem like a naive notion in days like these, with a terrible disease and financial crisis taking over our world, but I think sometimes it takes us to reach the absolute end of our own power and strength to see that we need to consider something else.
James 4:8 says, “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.” Pretty simple statement. If we break it down, our action step is only, “Come near.” We don’t even have to make it all the way - we just have to step closer. The next part says, “He WILL come.” WILL is a crucial word for me. It is a certainty. It is ASSURED. In Hebrews 11:1, Paul tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
In these days of stress and uncertainty with the COVID-19 situation, we cannot see what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or six months from now. But if we simply come near, just near to God, He will come and show us His way of getting through these hard days. Faith can seem out of reach sometimes, hard to “wrap our heads around.” But that is not the point - we are not expected to understand or predict, or fully know anything about what God WILL do; we are merely expected to “Come near” and have confidence that even though we can’t always see everything, we are ASSURED that He is present and He will come near, and provide what we need - daily, weekly, and over the long haul.
I don’t know about you, but I have found myself losing track of time and getting sucked into the abyss of social media, which some warn could be detrimental to my well being. But I have a defense against that idea. As we are sitting in our homes, we can look to the internet and find story after story of the dramatic loss of life and fears about our jobs, our physical and mental health, and the state of our world. We can fret about how to wash our hands, where we will find more toilet paper, and when our children will return to school.
But can I suggest another way of looking at this challenge we face as a world today? Romans 8:37 says, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” This situation is happening during Lent - the time of preparation to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. That is no coincidence. Let’s return to the thought of getting caught in a Facebook rabbit trail. Let’s consider how much we are actually conquering through the unified battle we are all facing as a world against the far-reaching effects of this virus. Let’s remember how God works. He works through our faith. He works through our coming near to Him. He works through our acknowledging and remembering Who He is.
The fruits of His Spirit in us are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Go back right now and spend twenty or thirty minutes scrolling your Instagram feed.
Compare how many examples of those fruits you find versus how many cases of fear, discouragement, or hopelessness you find. I’m telling you, the SPIRIT is WINNING! We are seeing God’s movement in our world, and we are CONQUERING!
In the Old Testament stories in the Bible, the repetitive themes are fear, starvation, rebellion, poverty, and disobedience. Time after time, God calls the people back to Him and shows Himself as trustworthy, generous, kind, patient, and loving. But the people just didn’t get it. They continued to lean on only what they could see, and allowed their own fear to rule their hearts and decisions. But then God made a new plan. He brought us Jesus to show us the new way. Simply believe, simply come near to Him and follow His example, and you will be ASSURED of the free gift of life eternal. We don’t even have to go all the way on our own; we simply need to “Come near.” What a generous gift. Thank you, Jesus.
Peace be with you all as you continue to walk through these challenging days. Look for Him, and I promise you will find Him. And in Him, there is great hope and promise for our future.