A couple of weeks ago, I took some time to consider some ways we shouldn’t let the unprecedented, overwhelming, and strange events of 2020 change us. Although that post didn’t garner a lot of interest, I believe it is a very important post. Sometimes we are changed in the wrong ways before we even realize it. But all that is going on should be changing us–just in the right way!
If any of us attended a biblical church in the 70s and 80s, when biblical prophecy was both promoted and studied with enthusiasm, then we recognize the enormity of what is going on here. I am making no predictions and I have no timeline, but anyone who is familiar with Revelation has to understand that this isn’t just like any other past world event. It’s bigger. It’s broader. It’s taking us right into the Revelation 13 scenario that always seemed so far away. And yet, here it is: Right here and right now.
As we reflect on all of this, it should be changing us in several ways. Some of these changes have probably happened naturally to us as we have processed all of this, but some of these take a little more intention. As with any year, we never want to get to the end of it without seeing strong growth in our walk with the Lord. 2020 has probably caused this growth a bit more naturally for us as we’ve had to contemplate some really hard things. And some of you have also endured some really hard things. Life was definitely different this year.
So how should this strange year be changing us?
1. We should gain a new perspective. As I sat on the porch with my sister-in-law a few weeks ago, our conversation went to these current events. Both of us agreed that our priorities had changed with this whole thing. Suddenly, certain things that had seemed so important had gone down several notches on the list. Many things have claimed our attention in this world, haven’t they? Fashion, an obsession with a spotless house, useless hobbies, extra-curricular activities for ourselves and for our children and so many more shallow things have demanded our attention and taken so much of our time. While these things aren’t wrong in and of themselves, they may have had the wrong priority in our lives and in the lives of our families. But this year has demanded we take another look at these things and should be giving us a new perspective on our time and energy and how we are expending them.
2. This should change our expectations. Most of us Christians have gotten used to being treated fairly well by others. But we can feel this changing, can’t we? It’s been changing slowly for many years but this year it has taken on warp speed. We know the Bible says that the world will hate us (John 15:18-19) but up until now we haven’t felt too much hatred. The part that makes this extra hard is that so many “Christians” are actually part of the world. And so we feel ostracized and ridiculed by those who would call themselves our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, upon a little further investigation, we can see that they are serving a different Christ. The remnant that is remaining true to God’s Word is shrinking dramatically during this time and that’s just how the Bible said it would be. As we endure and come to expect the hatred that is growing quickly now for those who hold to the literal understanding of God’s Word, may we remember we are in good company. Jesus and His disciples were also hated by many.
3. Gratitude should be increasing. Do you, like me, now have a deeper appreciation for the many simple blessings in life that before were taken for granted? Going to church, getting together with family and friends, store shelves filled with goods, going to a restaurant or store freely and without a face mask, and so many more things. When we realize that something we took for granted can be taken from us by the declaration of a pandemic or at the whim of a tyrannical leader, oh, how our gratitude for those things should increase. But not only those things. Don’t you find yourself appreciating your child’s (or grandchild’s) happy laughter so much more? Even a walk in the woods or a sunset seems to hold more glory than ever before. And God’s Word has become even more precious. If I can thank 2020 for anything, it is for the renewed appreciation of the things that really matter.
4. We should have a new courage, boldness, and urgency in sharing the Gospel. Have you felt it, too? An urgency to cast aside what people think about you in your passion to share the Good News? Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as if we have forever to share with that neighbor or friend. That family member who has intimidated us for years may be lost but we haven’t had the courage to have a hard conversation with them. But with the rapture feeling more imminent than ever, we recognize that now is the time. We can’t wait. 2020 should be filling us with a renewed and bold desire to share the Gospel and to have hard conversations with those who claim Christ but live without any fruit. We’ve always known that Jesus could come at any time and that people we love could be left behind, but now it feels more real than ever before, doesn’t it??
5. This should increase our desire to study the Bible, especially Bible prophecy. If we haven’t invested time in the study of scripture before now, this should start happening now. Especially if we are believers. Not only is the Bible our only anchor in this crazy time, but it is also rapidly coming true right before our eyes! If these two things don’t increase our desire for knowing the Word, then I don’t know what will.
6. This should build our faith. While many of us have faced many different trials–losing loved ones, economic hardships, illnesses, etc.–the world at large was a constant. Life always pretty much continued as normal outside our trial. But that isn’t the case this year and that fact has caused many of us to examine our hearts and see what we really were relying on for our safety and security. We have said the Lord is our Rock and that we trust Him many times before, but this year, like no other, demands we prove it. Recognizing that at any time and within a few short days, all of life can change should be changing our perspective from the temporal to the eternal. Oh, how easy it was to keep our eyes on this world when all was “normal”. But when normal was stripped away, our eyes were opened to just how much we were relying on that “normal” for our safety and security, instead of on God. This is a great opportunity to change our perspective and place our trust in God instead of in our circumstances (or country).
As we face the uncertain and the unknown, our faith and trust in what we “cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1) should be increasing. This should be a great faith-building year for all of us. We have faith that God is working out all things for His glory. We have faith that He will return for us. We have faith that He is preparing a place for us. While we could never “see the future” before, we made many assumptions, did we not? We assumed life would continue on as normal. We assumed we could continue our normal activities. We assumed that a Revelation 13 scenario was way down the road on the timeline. All of a sudden, our assumptions have come crashing down around our heads and we can’t “see” a thing. While this is certainly no fun, it really is amazing how God is using this in our lives to build our faith and to move our hope from this world to place it in Him alone.
And there are some ways in which 2020 should be changing us. I don’t know what is ahead. Perhaps there could be another fifty years of this end time scenario unfolding before we are raptured. Or perhaps five years. Perhaps three months. None of us can know the future.
What we do know is that 2020 is a year like no other, showing a convergence of end time signs like no year ever before. May we consider this seriously and soberly as we continue to step forward into the future.