The last two years have been rough for our world. First COVID brought a world-wide pandemic with multiple layers of shutdowns, mandates, and ever-changing rules. Fear and anxiety have wreaked havoc and unsettled so many. As a culture, we are more keenly aware that nothing is certain in life and that so much of our lives are outside of our control, and for many this is a terrifying revelation.
Now, as we begin to slowly climb out of the COVID mess, we are confronted with the ugliness of sin and war. The devastation and violence and darkness of sin can be greatly disturbing. Over the last week as I’ve been pondering all that has transpired in our world over the last two years, a passage in 2 Peter caught my eye.
We’ve come to the close of another year, completed another 356-day journey around the sun, and marched our way onto a new calendar. While the actual day marker of a new year is rather arbitrary since we are constantly in motion and heading towards the future each moment, as a society, we have collectively made January 1st a special day and time to celebrate. It has become a day to remember, reflect on, and learn from the past year and a moment to re-envision, reimagine, and make plans for the new one.
Christmas is over. The presents have been opened. The wrapping paper cleaned up and the gifts put away. The feast has been consumed and most of the goodies have disappeared. While Christmas is an amazing, awe-filled celebration and time of memory making and remembering, the post-Christmas season can be a bit of a letdown. After all the planning, anticipation, and eager expectation, post-Christmas can feel mundane, anti-climactic, and disappointing. While New Year’s is right around the corner, it does not carry the same joy, celebration, excitement, and magical moments that Christmas does.
We have had one strange year; 2020 has not gone as anyone expected or dreamed it would. However, as we gather once again around this familiar holiday, there is still much we can be grateful for. In fact, the Bible encourages us and tells us that in the midst of difficult times is when we must count our blessings and bring to mind the faithfulness of God. Having a grateful heart in the middle of the trials and suffering in life is crucial to our spiritual health and continued growth during seasons of hardship.
It’s been over four months of crazy. Four months since we’ve been able to walk around and see people’s faces. How did what initially started out as two weeks of quarantine morph into four months of chaos? Now we’re on the other side and stepping into a brand new world. A world where everyone tries to maintain a six-foot personal bubble. A strange landscape of masks, face shields, and sanitizing wipes. Gone are the days of hugs and handshakes, and in their place are social bubbles and endless Zoom calls. What is this world coming to?!
Fear. It’s everywhere. It’s running wild and unabated in people’s minds and hearts. It’s driving decisions and changing our lives. We’ve already discussed how faith should trump fear during this time of panic and uncertainty. However, there is one thing you should fear: God.
I came across this quote by Charles Spurgeon and felt that it was quite fitting for this season.
“The fear of God is the death of every other fear."
Are you tired of receiving emails with the subject line of “Our Response to COVID-19”? I am! I feel like my inbox has been inundated with the same subject emails from every coperation, retailer, and business I’ve shopped with. It’s gotten rather annoying to say the least. However, it reveals the fact that this virus is on everyone’s minds. And how could it not, since major decisions that affect our everyday lives have been made in light of the current pandemic.
Suffering. It’s all around us. You see it on the faces of people you pass at the grocery store, see it in the stories posted on the news and social media, and see the pain it causes in the lives of those you know and love. We live in a broken world, but it can be hard to make sense of all the pain and suffering we see and experience. How can a good, loving Father allow us to go through hard times? As born-again believers, shouldn’t we be free from the ravages of a sinful world? If God is truly sovereign, why does He allow us to walk through suffering?
As Thanksgiving approaches, it may be hard to feel thankful. Our nation has been hit hard with catastrophe, tragedy, and unprecedented violence. From the fires in the west to the hurricanes in the south and flooding in the east and numerous shootings throughout, no region has been spared from calamity. Many people are hurting and broken. Some are destitute without a home, while others have lost loved ones without having the chance to say goodbye.
Our hearts hurt for those who have lost everything, and we’re heavily burdened for those who have no hope. So this Thanksgiving, how can we rejoice and give thanks when our world seems to be falling apart?
I’m a full time private music instructor. It’s my job to teach students the inner complexities of music and how to translate what’s written on a page to how to play it on an instrument. I teach students of all ages, but right now, I have quite a few little guys—ages 5-6. And while these youngsters can be a challenge, it is so rewarding to see the proverbial light bulb come on and watch them master each new lesson. Recently, as I was telling my family some of the funny things these little guys have said—I have quite a few stories!—God hit me with something big.
Children trust utterly, absolutely, and entirely. They don’t doubt what you tell them, but in fact, are willing to somewhat blindly trust you.
Since a very young age, I have always been fascinated by the stained glass windows found within the states. The stories of Jesus show forth proudly as the new day sun shines through. Casting the dark reds, and deep blues upon the faces of the congregation as they eagerly listen to the words of their shepherd. Small children investigate the photos of Christ in His ministry on earth, remembering the tales of Christ that they so often hear from their parents: the feeding of the 5,000, Christ's birth, death and resurrection. Though it may seem childish, I still enjoy spending my time looking at stained glass windows and maybe the reason behind my love of them is knowing how much they show my own story.
Editor’s Note: Since my article was published on TheRebelution.com, there has been an increased focus and interest on the subject of trials and God’s sovereignty in them. So when I received an email from a friend paralleling the metal refining process with God’s work in our lives and the biblical use of metal, fire, and purification, I was so encouraged and excited by the concepts and truths brought out that I felt led to share it with you all. So here it is. While the first half may become a bit tedious—especially if you’re not an engineer—keep reading, everything will fall into place and create a power-punch at the end! May the Lord use it to encourage and build you up in your current place—whether it be in the midst of, coming out of, or recovering from a season of difficulty.
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. So reads the title of the book, the start of a Rebelution. It’s challenging. It’s exciting. It’s world changing. But for some of us, it’s not reality. For some of us, doing hard things doesn’t always mean rebelling against low expectations but rather merely meeting them.
Now before you stop reading in aghast, let me explain. I agree that we are all called to do hard things. However, for some of us, those hard things are not necessarily big things. In fact, they might be ordinary, mundane, supposedly “normal” things, but they’re hard for us. Now the “us” I’m referring to is not the typical, everyday teenager or young person, but the one navigating physical affliction and suffering whether it be cancer, Lyme’s disease, juvenile arthritis, autoimmune disease, or any other chronic illness. Can you relate?
Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. Fifteen years ago, terror struck America as three hijacked planes hurled into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The attackers’ objective: terrorize the most powerful nation in the world and bring fear and devastation. They accomplished their mission and ignited the War on Terror. Since that fateful day in 2001, there have been many other terrorist attacks in America and around the world where innocent people have lost their lives and military personnel have sacrificed theirs.
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Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for our country. A time to remember lives lost, sacrifices made, and a war begun. Read more
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