Thinking back to this time last year I can’t help but laugh at the events that transpired. I was in the middle of choosing my word for 2020 and I was so excited about the new decade and what thrilling adventures it would bring. We were all excited about kicking off a new decade with “20/20 vision”. We were planning to push ahead with dreams, desires, goals, and achievements. We were going to travel more, spend more time with family, work harder, show more hospitality, learn new things, and really start enjoying life as it should be enjoyed. We were going to thrive.
We can all agree that the adventure that was 2020 can be described as anything but thrilling. Other events had been set into motion that none of us could have even imagined at the start of this new decade. Events that were beyond our control, events that would change our lives, events that would effectively bring our world to a halt.
2020 hit and had a promise of a good year…until we heard the word COVID-19. In early March our country was hit with this brand new virus and we shut down. Many lost their lives, many more lost their livelihoods. Churches were closed, schools and sports were cancelled, business shut down, families were separated, and we were isolated from everyone and everything. Fear set in and has only taken deeper root in the hearts of most. Graduations were missed, weddings were cancelled, birthdays were celebrated via Zoom, and we all got used to hearing “social distancing” driving a deeper wedge between each other. Depression and anxiety soared, fear gripped the hearts of all, and it wasn’t long before unrest set in. We then turned to face political turmoil, increased violence, angry protests and riots, and even natural disasters with devastating fires. It was easy to lose hope and give in to the darkness settling in around us.
With the pain and suffering that 2020 brought, how do we go into another new year without fear and trepidation of what more we will face? How do we get excited about hope when we can’t see an end in sight to all of the heartache this year has brought? It’s easy to quote verses like I Peter 5:7 (“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”) at each other, but it’s a lot harder when it’s you having to do the casting. When it’s the person we look at in the mirror having to actually put in to practice what we’ve been preaching, well that’s a different story right? It’s easy to read stories in the Bible and say “well that was different” or “that’s not like this at all”. It’s easy to pass the story of Peter in the midst of the storm off as just a story, not to be taken seriously. It’s easy to say “well Jesus was right there with him so that’s different”. My friend, Jesus may not physically be standing in front of you today, but if you are a child of God you are not alone. He has sent another in His physical place and the Holy Spirit has just enough power to calm the storm as Jesus in the flesh had 2,000 years ago. You may look around at the turmoil in the world today wondering where in the world our Savior is, but friend all you have to do is look up. The curse that sin left on this world is dark, and tribulation is part of the effects that curse has had. While Jesus may not be calming the storm we’re in right now, He sure is standing with us in the thick of it.
With this is the forefront of my mind, the word I have chosen to focus and meditate on for 2021 is the word
Peace is a word with many meanings. One definition is to represent the absence of war or conflict. Another definition refers to a state of rest, calm, or quiet. However, Biblical peace is more than just the absence of conflict or state of rest. It means completeness and it points to the presence of something, or someone, else. It points to our Savior and it is a peace only He can provide.
How then do we get to a point where we can experience His peace?
1.) Separate the Lies from the Truth
Fear is the biggest liar.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
We all have to be honest and admit that 2020 was a fear filled year. Some more than others, but all nonetheless. Fear will rob us of God’s peace by taking our focus off of Him and putting it on the circumstances surrounding us. Fear will lead us to believing the lies spread by media and news. Fear will have us believing that God is no longer in control, but that we have been abandoned. Fear is a liar.
The truth is that God is in control of every situation. While He may not stop the storm, he knows every outcome and every consequence. That alone should bring comfort to our hearts.
2.) Stop Trying to Gain Control
We cannot control the curse we were brought under, nor can we control the outcomes. When we learn to stop grasping for control that we will never have, we will find calm while the storm carries on. Instead of grasping for control, grasp the Father’s hand.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Cling to His promises for you and let Him carry you through.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17
3.) Realize the God is Sovereign
God may allow the consequences of the sin curse to play out in our world, but He is still sovereign over all. In the end, He gives and takes away. He allows and he halts. He creates and He destroys. He judges, and He loves.
“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” Isaiah 45: 7
The most important thing to remember is that God does not work on our timetable.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9
4.) Renew Your Mind Daily with Prayer and Meditation
Choosing to ignore the things of this world and choosing to focus your mind on Christ will bring calm and peace in troubled times. Read and meditate daily on the scriptures. Keep a scripture journal as you study and note the things God is showing you as you read through His Word. Put yourself in a quiet place and note the emotions your heart feels. Pray though and tell God specifics on what has you anxious, and then leave those things with Him. If we start each day like this, we will experience God’s peace and calm in a chaotic world.
“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Psalm 201:17
This year it is going to be really hard for people to want to set goals. It’s going to be hard to dream again. It may be hard to continue on with no knowledge of where this year will take us. Hopefully you found some encouragement in the above words. May you find God’s peace this year and experience it like you’ve never before. May your heart be calmed as you go about your days. May you find rest in God’s promises knowing that He knows the end of the story. May you learn to trust Him more and cling to Him during this storm. And may your 2021 be the start of a renewed relationship with our Savior.
This song has been an uplifting encouragement to me, especially as I wrote this. I hope it is the same encouragement to you as you start the new year.