I’m not one for writing an Annual Letter. So this is not one. Rather it is an end of year journal entry of sorts. As Leann works diligently in the kitchen, preparing her special magic cookie bars (she does not like the descriptive name, magic) for friends and neighbors, I am sitting at one of our portable tables in the living room, listening to Ottmar Liebert’s, Poets and Angels © 1990 album. Ottmar plays the acoustic guitar.
He is playing O Holy Night now: “Oh, night divine, Oh, night when Christ Was born. Christ is the Lord! Oh, praise His name forever; His power and glory evermore proclaim!”
According to the seemingly endless stream of news and information available, we’ve had a challenging, life-altering 2020 replete with natural and viral disasters. We are running out of money, hope, reason and solutions. Life seems to suck at this point since the formidable Pandemic has quarantined us with masks and social distancing.
“Masks don’t work. All we are doing is breathing the same air in and out. We are suffocating ourselves,” some say.
“Masks are essential to preventing the spread of this virus. Anyone caught without a mask will be punished for not caring about their fellow man (or woman),” say others.
In addition to Covid, our summer brought raging wildfires across much of the West. And wild those flames became, consuming homes in record fashion, deterred by nothing designed to help. Caravans of families climbed into cars and trucks filled with special memories and headed for safe havens as the flames intensified. and overpowering clouds of smoke filled the air, attacking our respiratory systems. Oh God, help us. We cannot last in this calamity. Is this the end times God? Are these our final days?
As it turned out, these were not the Biblical final days for all mankind. Perhaps a foretaste. Certainly worse than many of us anticipated. As the warnings grew more urgent and threat levels reached evacuation stages, we found ourselves overcoming our fear and grabbing a few worldly possessions and jamming them into the car after we called a friend who had space for us outside the danger area.
Driving away from our home brought temporary relief and hope. Silent prayers were constant in my mind. And then I had a strange thought. What if God is not sending a rescue ship to whisk us away to a better place where the sun is shining, the air is pure and flowers abound. What if this becomes a more serious trial and greater tribulation which brings us to the brink of death? Will I praise God for this? Will I proclaim how wonderful my Savior is in the midst of total destruction? After five days, the calamity lessened, so I am not sure what I would have done. As the days passed, I prayed for strength to undergo whatever trial He set before me. I really meant it.
Time passed. Life slowly resumed as before the fires. With one major exception: Coronavirus! Otherwise known as COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.
Raging fires. Worldwide pandemic. Financial ruin. Businesses forcefully closed. Schools are closed. Wearing masks mandatory and an increase in thoughts of suicide. The government has newfound powers to control life.
“Since the coronavirus arrived, depression and anxiety in America have become rampant. Federal surveys show that 40 percent of Americans are now grappling with at least one mental health or drug-related problem. But young adults have been hit harder than any other age group, with 75 percent struggling.” (The Washington Post).
Is there any hope at all? The answer seems to be a resounding, NO! Not really. But that is not true. Hope is as close as your heart calling out to God: “Lord please save my soul. I am lost, confused, frightened and full of fear.” What does the Bible have to say about our hope?
Romans 8:31-39 “If God is for us, who can be against us? Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In case we’ve allowed fear of fire, financial ruin, and covid to send us into a downward spiral of depression, remember these verses, these promises of God that He will always be with us and absolutely nothing can separate us from Him.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.