By Mark Shaw
There were many takeaways and life lessons from 2020 but I want to highlight 3 of them now:
1. We’ve Deceived Ourselves Into Believing that We Can Control the World Around Us
I read a secular training program that was offering “skills for living in an unpredictable world.” Then I heard a commercial say “how to cope when life gets out of control.” I read and hear comments like these often and every time, I think or speak out loud something like this: “Life is always out of our control and living is unpredictable.” I speak the truth so I don’t believe the lies the world is offering.
I think the takeaway I discovered from 2020 is that people have deceived themselves into believing that they can control the world around them and outside of them.
All we can control is our own thoughts, words, and actions which the Lord Almighty holds us accountable.
How I think is controlled by me.
I respond to life in the way that I train, or re-train, my brain to respond. I can think like a victim or I can think like someone who trusts in the victorious Christ I proclaim to follow. 1 Corinthians 11:1 reminds me to follow Christ and to have disciple-makers who lead me:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
I can choose my words carefully or I can spout out words from my heart.
I can choose my actions righteously or I can act foolishly. I am responsible for how I respond to the people in the world around me and my takeaway is that I have a very long way to go to become more Christ-like. To be like Christ is a long spiritual journey for me. Is it for you, too? 2020 revealed my heart and my character in ways I did not know existed.
2. Death is No Longer a Forgotten Foe
Our culture has covered up death for far too long.
All types of addictions enable this type of avoidance thinking: avoid pain, avoid sorrow, avoid depressing topics, and avoid the topic of death. 2020 brought death to the forefront of our brains as we all contemplated the power of death to an unknown and scary virus (as reported in March and April). We began to fear death to the point of taking all types of precautions: isolating, ordering groceries and products by mail, working from home, avoiding restaurants and public places, watching church services online, wearing masks, etc. We didn’t want to spread the virus nor did we want to get infected by it!
But death is a reality we all face and its inevitability cannot be avoided forever. We will all die.
That’s why the Gospel message is so important to get out to the public at large.
The Gospel says that Jesus conquered death for repentance, faith-filled sinner born again by the Holy Spirit and trusting in Christ alone for eternal life. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 is an incredible truth about death for the born-again believer of Jesus Christ:
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
2020 brought death into the minds of everyone so Christians must not shy away from that reality but use it as a conversation to share the hope of the Gospel with everyone. I love the revealed truth from Ecclesiastes 3:11:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
God placed eternity into everyone’s heart.
And 2020 forced everyone to quit avoiding this simple truth as though we are all going to live forever. We are not, and only the time we have on earth is given for us to lead people to Christ. When someone dies, it is too late. 2020 reminds me that the time I have left needs to be used urgently!
3. 2020 Reminded Us that Relationships are Important
Proverbs 18:1 says it this way:
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Many of us were forced into isolation but many of us chose to isolate for a variety of reasons. The danger in isolation is that we end up breaking out against all sound judgment. In other words, we have limited restraint and start to think crazy thoughts and speak out, or post on social media, all types of things we believe to be correct. We even start to do unusual things and it is scary what our behaviors can consist of when we let ourselves go into isolation.
God never intended for us to isolate.
God wants us to be in relationship with Him and with others. That’s why He gave us His Son so that we might be reconciled to Him. That’s why He gave us the church so that we might be part of a family and a body of believers who function together in love.
Church meetings are essential.
The local gathering in worship, small group gatherings, and biblical counseling meetings are essential. Otherwise, we will break out from all sound judgment. And the key ingredients for all of these meeting (the local gathering in worship, small groups, and biblical counseling) are the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We need other people speaking the truth in love to us so that we help each other to spiritually grow in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
In summary, these are just a few of the takeaways I received from the year that everyone hated: 2020.
Personally, it was a tough year for many reasons but it really was a very good year in so many ways that I am grateful to have experienced the hardships of 2020 because of what God taught me and how He drew me closer to Himself.
Thanks for Reading!
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