From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” Acts 17:26
2020 has definitely not been my favorite year. At the start of each new year, I always anticipate the coming year with such hope and anticipation. Blank pages, 365 of them, just waiting to be filled with life, with experiences, with moments, with trials, with whatever may come. 2020 was off to a challenging beginning before Covid-19 ever officially made its way here. Even now, I remember this feeling of stillness that accompanied me as I sat by my son’s hospital bed in mid-February. There was this overwhelming sense of God’s presence in the midst of our temporary trial. I didn’t understand then that God was trying to prepare my heart for the unexpected season that was about to hit the U.S. like a tidal wave. In hindsight, I can see now what He was trying to reveal to me then–life’s interruptions will come and the best thing to do is to not focus on what I did have planned but allow room for what He is planning and doing. Hindsight, as they say, is 2020. Ironically.
Much like you, our family was going about our business making plans for spring sports and anticipating the warming temperatures and evenings at the ball field and soccer pitch. School was cancelled for a day, then two weeks, then the rest of the semester. My college girls were sent home mid-semester and were required to finish their studies virtually. Shelter-at-home orders were enacted, masks became mandatory. Spring turned to summer. Summer is fading into fall. We cautiously hoped that school would return to in-person learning, yet if we had learned nothing else during this season, we learned that the wisest course of action was to hope for the best but expect the worst. No one was surprised when the first semester was switched to distance-learning.
Prior to March of this year, my days had a gentle rhythm. I love my big family with the chorus of voices and flurry of activity when we are all together. Yet my introvert self also loves the quiet of my home when all the people are occupied at their various places of school, work, sports, university life. One day, the house was quiet except for the occasional bark of my beloved furries, and the next day, all quiet dissipated…for 6 solid months and counting. Everything changed, quite literally within a matter of hours and days. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, we were homebound, indefinitely.
At first, it was easy to view it as an adventure and maintain a positive attitude. Time stretched on, and it became easier to isolate. The thing about isolating is that it also makes your world become quite small and easy to adopt a negative mentality about all of life. And…at times, the ones with whom you are isolated. Several times, I have caught myself recounting the list of all the woes of this year. It’s a pretty extensive list. Life has been hard in many ways in this deplorable year of 2020. The mantra in our house has become, “Of course, it’s 2020,” pretty much about everything. Our expectations for anything good evaporated into thin air.
But God. When I was writing my first Bible study on the book of Joshua, over and over the phrase “but God” appeared when it seemed like all hope was lost. Hence, the title of that same Bible study became “But God” (see bottom of blog post for a link to the Bible study). Every time, I write that phrase I am quickly reminded that though our view is limited, our hope is minimal, and our options are bleak, God is the one and only true God, the powerful “I Am,” and He can do what we least expect. He is the reason our lens can refocus. As a student of God’s Word, I love to learn the Bible and read it, with so many verses lodged into my memory. Recently, while I was in the midst of feeling blah about life in general, God whispered to me through the fog. Intellectually, I know that none of this year has caught God by surprise. He knew it was coming. He knew how different nations would handle the pandemic. God’s authority and power still remain in control of the situation. I have not doubted that during any of this. I have not felt ignored or abandoned by God. Based upon my attitude towards the pandemic at times, however, I probably acted as though God was picking on me personally. Even during those times, I have still found myself asking God what His purpose in all of this is. All of this has not been for naught. God is very particular about His timetable and what He allows and permits and how He acts. He reminded me of the verse found in Acts 17:26 (see above) and then I felt the paradigm shift within me. Not only does God act intentionally but He also acts intentionally towards me. Not only did God allow this pandemic to occur right now during this season of life, but He also chose this specific time on the Kingdom calendar for me and for you to be alive through it. “[He] has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” is what we are told by Luke in Acts 17:26. God has a purpose in everything. In every single thing. There is a reason you and I are alive during this time in history. It’s time we seek Him and His will specifically for us in the midst of this. I don’t know what God is doing, why, or how, but I know He wants me to join Him in His work. No more wallowing, no more woes. Hopeful optimism has replaced the “woe is me” mentality. May God open our eyes to see where He is moving and wants us to join Him. Today is the day to step out in faith and recognize that life here is but a vapor. Eternity is forever. Oh that we would have an urgency to view life through an eternal lens and make the choices that will matter in eternity. Let’s look for an opportunity to be a light to those around us. Offer a kind word and a smile. Serve others with love. From God’s abundance, let’s spread love and His message to the hurting world around us.
Click here to view the Bible study, But God.