2020 was a year everyone wants to forget! And as we entered 2021, it seemed as if the craziness of the previous year followed. How many of us are tired of living through historical, life-changing events? How many of us have logged out of social media sites and news broadcasts because the negativity and misinformation is mentally exhausting? Wouldn’t it be so much better if we had a button we could press and the pandemic would be over and the face masks we’ve accumulated could be thrown out or stored away in a dusty and soon forgotten memory box? Our human instinct is to forget challenging moments and push ahead. Understandably, it is hard to visit painful memories and much easier to let go and press on. Yet I believe looking back can often be where we find the very strength we need to move ahead.
Throughout Scripture, we read stories of men and women recounting the most challenging and painful times of their lives. And in those memories, there is praise and there is celebration. Throughout the Bible, you will see God’s people worshiping Him in the recounting of their history. With grateful hearts they remember who spread the waters of turbulence as they tread on dry ground, they recall the One who preserved in the den of the lions, and walked with them through the flames of the fiery furnace. And 2020 was no different, because in it was the provision and presence of God.
2020 was a year to remember. So how will we explain events we have all lived through ten years from now? How will we describe it to our children who are too small to remember and to grandchildren still unborn? In Deuteronomy 6:20-25 we read, "In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders-great and terrible-on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees, and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” Within these verses the Israelites are told to recount the stories of their slavery, the miracles that followed and their victorious redemption in order to explain to the next generation why they should obey, abide, and, continue to follow God. In a similar way, we are called to remember the great things Christ has done for us in the midst of hard times and in all circumstances to never forget our greatest miracle which is our salvation through Christ Jesus. The Apostle Peter says our salvation is enough reason to walk throughout our lifetime in great joy and humility. 1 Peter 1:3-7 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
This living hope that Peter speaks of is not only forward-looking, it’s a current standing position. Because of our great salvation, we rejoice today, and we claim victory over every tomorrow. Born of man we fear, we doubt, we grow weary. Born of God we walk forward in living hope because Christ is the immovable anchor we cling to as the world falls apart.
So, my simple devotional is a call for each one us to grasp onto the good things that God has provided in 2020 and to walk forward into 2021 rejoicing in the eternal treasures believers possess that this world can never steal away. 2020 will always be a year to remember; how will you recount it? What will you cling to and what will you choose to let go? How have your tears cleansed your eyes to a greater vision of Christ? Because the truth of our faith is this: regardless the year, regardless the journey, we are armed with a triumphant history, we are grounded with an unceasing joy, we await an unperishable future and we are drawn together as a community to recount at all times, under all circumstances the greatness and goodness of our God.