It amuses me how everyone seemed to be looking forward to the arrival of 2021, as if January 1st had some sort of filter that kept the nasty events of 2020 from following us. However, as I stated in a recent blog (Why We Can Go Confidently into 2021), I’m not so sure but 2021 could make the previous year look like a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies in comparison.
How did you respond to all the painful disruptions of the past year? What was your attitude?
In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John was given a vision of the future, a vision of really nasty, terrifying events in the world. Beginning in chapter 6, we see a vision of judgments expressed in seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. By the time you get to the seven bowls, we see some pretty serious things going on: painful boils, bloody water, scorching heat, darkness, and so forth. Let me point out just two of them and the way the people responded:
“The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun. It was allowed to scorch people with fire, and people were scorched by the intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory. The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues because of their pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they did not repent of their works” (Rev. 16:8-11).
In a world beset with cataclysmic events, you’d think it would get people’s attention. But there are no foxhole prayers: “God rescue me from this and I’m yours!” I shake my head at what I see in this vision: the dullness of people to see God’s power on display.
But then I have to evaluate myself in response to the cataclysmic events of 2020. OK, so 2020 may not fully deserve the title “cataclysmic,” but it certainly was disruptive to our lives. COVID-19, riots, the economic turndown, and the growing hostility in our country got our attention, but what did it direct our attention to?
We naturally give thanks to God when our lives are blessed with good things. We even thank Him for things that may or may not have come from His hand, but they make us happy. Thank you, Jesus, for my new Lexus with leather seats!!
But what about the events that challenge us … disrupt our lives … feel cataclysmic to our small corner of the world? We can complain to God about it. We can ask the “why me?” question, as if we don’t deserve anything worse than a torn cuticle. But let’s look to God in a wholly different way.
- God, is there something I/we need to repent of?
- God, what are you wanting to teach me through this?
We can follow those questions with praise and trust. God is faithful. He will not abandon His children. Therefore, we should trust Him in the dark days. We can praise Him because, no matter what happens, He is greater. He is victorious over all, and He will deliver His children through whatever we face.
I do not know what lies ahead in 2021, but I am determined that—no matter what—I will look to Christ. I will trust Christ. I will praise Him in all things.
- “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
- “Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Heb. 13:15).
I’m not saying we are in the end times, but unlike the people in Revelation 16, let’s give glory to God in the midst of the tumultuous events of our own day.
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