Persevering in Jesus Christ
This past year, 2020, was the year of explosive changes that have wounded many of our souls. Humanity awaited the strike of midnight between 31 December and 1 January. Somehow, we tricked ourselves into believing that this simple second forward in time would allow us a clean slate and perhaps we could leave everything bad in the year that was now behind us.
How lovely if we could leave behind COVID, political corruption, and divisive ideologies. I wish we could turn the page to 2021, and 2020 would feel like a distant memory. Yet, we know, a mere second doesn’t do much in the way of actual change. If we are truly honest with ourselves, these deep chasms and wounds in our world do not heal with the stroke of a clock.
As believers moved forward into the new year, I believe God extended to us a gracious lesson in experiencing 2020. He began more forcefully forging an endurance in us where we could move into 2021 knowing it may not get any better, yet we still hope in Him. Where many have their hopes placed in a calendar date, we are being built up to withstand hardships that are promised to us in the faith. His discipline is at work (Hebrews 12:11).
We have watched the world shift drastically in such a short period of time, and it has shaken things from our lives that we have held onto as comforts other than Christ. Whereas Americans have felt sure in their constitutional rights, whereas humanity has felt safe from massive outbreaks of illness and death, whereas people have assumed there is more good than evil in this world, we have seen quite the opposite. Many of us have assumed our strong and happy friends were doing well only to have gotten phone calls of their demise because they could not stand up under the weight of this year and all it has brought upon them. I believe it’s His grace that has allowed these things to be shaken loose so that we learn to stand firm on Him and to be reminded we are not citizens of this world. Our heavenly home still awaits us.
Another gracious gift the Lord has provided us with is time. With so many things closed, gatherings being canceled, even medical needs being postponed, I have had a lot of time on my hands. It has been a lonely year, but those of us from countries where freedom of religion is taken for granted might have actually realized how wonderful and fragile of a gift that truly is for the first time. While so many brothers and sisters in Christ have been suffering for ages because of their faith in Jesus, we are now just glimpsing the potential suffering for our faith on our own shores.
As I originally wrote this, I had just embarked on the book of Isaiah in my “Bible in a Year” plan. The designers have carefully strategized what books we read when. It was timed well for the season of Christmas as it is a time to celebrate the One we worship. My brothers and sisters, let us grab ahold of Jesus and be strengthened in His promises:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of darkness, on them has light shone. … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, ESV).
Where human words fail, God’s Word is alive and breathes hope into our souls. Continue to press forward holding tight to His garments. He is in sight, and He is coming again. Pray for your church. May God bless you as we step forward together and persevere in Jesus Christ.
Savannah Rae Perry
This article first appeared in FAITH LIFE, Volume 2, Issue 1, a ministry of Faith Baptist Church, Kaiserslautern, Germany. Used with permission.