"It's 2020" has become the common response to anything and everything that has and is happening out of the ordinary and causing disruption in our pre-planned, surprise-free, "normal" lives. I get it. To state that this year has been challenging would be an understatement. While no year's schedule goes according to plan exactly, this year has been off the charts thanks to a mixture of words that begin with "p" – pandemic, politics, and protests.
That's the response to "Why is this happening now?" or "This is not what I had planned," and even "Well...we're out of toilet paper again."
Even Christ-followers have fallen into a malaise (I've been wanting to use that word since the 1979 Jimmy Carter speech) that seems to have robbed many from the joy and abundant life that Christ proclaims we should be experiencing. Some have stated that this year seems like the longest in history. I understand that, too, but I checked. It's only one day longer than most years and that is simply because it is a leap year.
Church activities and events have changed. Online services have replaced in-person services for many (at least for a season) and prognosticators and survey takers are stating that many who attended church services in person with some form of regularity prior to March will never come back. That's a huge ball of discouragement for pastors and church leaders.
But, it's 2020.
This year has produced challenges that have caught us off guard. Each person and family has had to pivot and shift to make things work best. That includes working from home, becoming homeschoolers, adjusting expectations, and seeking to understand what this new normal will be without being sucked into the latest conspiracy theories of global domination.
Because it's 2020.
If I had a dollar for each person who told me things would get back to "normal" (meaning pre-March) after the election, I could fund Lottie Moon's Christmas Offering with record donations. Now we are a few weeks after the election and...in case you haven't noticed...nothing has changed. There are more guidelines in place for some. Some churches who just began in-person services are shifting back to online only. Fear is rising. People are still angry. And...now it's almost Thanksgiving and many are frustrated in our nation that guidelines and rules in certain areas are in place that will hinder their gatherings.
Thankful? For what? It's 2020.
It is during times like this that Christians must seriously consider how to worship, how to be thankful, and how to trust God more. This is extremely difficult for western and American Christians who often elevate personal rights over submission to Christ.
Sometimes personal rights and freedoms (which I love, by the way) are used as weapons of the enemy to keep people from focusing on the main issues of life. Discernment is key for the Christ-follower. We must not stand on our independence to such a degree that we forget our total dependence on Christ.
So, let's be thankful. Not because this year has been so much fun, but because nothing has occurred in 2020 (or any other year in the past or future) that God has not been Lord over. His sovereignty is not simply in place when things go according to our plans, for our ease, and for our immediate benefit. God is sovereign over all. He truly is Lord of lords and King of kings, and for this we must be thankful.
Paul gives Timothy and us a good reminder regarding contentedness and thankfulness.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV
So give thanks with a grateful heart.
It's 2020 and God is not shaken.
He is sovereign over the calendar, over the pandemic, over the politics of the age, over the protests, and hopefully over you.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV