With more than half of the calendar year complete, many are already calling 2020 an “annus horribilis,” a Latin phrase once used by the Queen of England that means “horrible year.”
Perhaps the first six months of 2020 for you or your church have been especially rough. In addition to all of the Coronavirus issues and social upheaval, there still are a staggering number of people facing economic hardships or other personal problems.
When a hard year hits, it’s only natural to think, “God, can we please bring on the New Year now?” in hopes of better times, in hopes of a better year. I confess that I have thought the very same.
It’s important to remember that the first half of a ballgame doesn’t necessarily determine the final score. In a 1993 football classic known simply as “The Comeback,” the Buffalo Bills trailed the Houston Oilers by 32 points at halftime, only to come back and win in overtime. The Oklahoma Sooners, facing the Baylor Bears, mounted a similar stunning comeback in the 2019 football season. In real life, like sports, “it ain’t over til it’s over.”
Yet comebacks like this are indeed rare. Whether 2020 ends up as a comeback year or continues on in a bruising fashion, I recently have come across three truths that have helped me, and may help you, through a bad year.
Trust the Lord. One of my favorite verses is Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” When hard times hit, don’t try to make sense of it all. Try to trust Him more, and pray more in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Count your blessings. I love the hymn that encourages us to count our blessings and “name them one by one.” When we complain, we often make lists of all that went wrong. Why not turn that on its head, and list blessings from the Lord one by one? God can use this to lift your spirit.
Never give up. In Christian terms, we call this perseverance (Col. 1:11-12). Russell Moore in his book, “The Storm-Tossed Family,” quotes the popular line, “You are either just coming out of a storm, you are currently in one, or you’re about to be in one.” Moore points out that, in some ways, this is not an entirely accurate idea. It’s probably more accurate to say that, in life, we are always in a storm of some size, and it’s only God who will get us through.
So whether 2020 is shaping up to be a horrible year for you or not, it’s my prayer that these simple truths—and the promises of Jesus Christ that we know from God’s Word—will sustain you. That He will sustain you for the remainder of 2020 and beyond, as well as for all the days God gives all of us.