For many of us, 2020 was a year that will reverberate for the rest of our lives. Many have already written their postmortems on the year. But as I have reflected this new year, I have also been considering the things I learned in 2020.
For example, I learned a whole new vocabulary. This includes: socially-distanced, shelter-at-home, Zoom fatigue and “family pod units.” I also learned how to complete some home and car repairs myself, rather than call an expert. I learned the best ways to teach kids to ride a bike (thanks to a neighbor who kindly recommended I take the kids to a gently sloping grass hill nearby, the process was exponentially shortened!).
But the most important things I learned were lessons that I hope shape the rest of my life, family, and ministry. Here are some things God taught me in profound ways in 2020:
- I learned where my true comfort and joy are found. One of my favorite confessions of faith is question and answer #1 in the Heidelberg Catechism (included below). It is tempting to find my comfort and joy in circumstances. Yet 2020 was a stark reminder that this world is not my home. Safety and security in this life are not guaranteed. In the blink of an eye, a lot of what I treasure can be whisked away. 2020 gave me fresh perspective of where my confidence, faith, and trust must reside. I am more routinely seeking to be oriented around this reality.
- I learned to value more deeply my relationships with family and friends. I have had periods of loneliness in my lifetime. But I have never experienced the level of separation from loved ones like I did this past year. I took for granted what it is like to see my church family gathered each Sunday. I had taken for granted what a gift it is to have deep, in-person relationships with others. 2020 taught me to appreciate, pursue, and value relationships with others, and reminded me that I need others in my life to be the kind of Christian, husband, father, and counselor God calls me to be.
- I learned that God really will supply all that I need according to his glorious riches in Christ. Like many of you, I saw God abundantly provide for emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. 2020 had a lot of “wants” that were frustrated, but I learned in fresh ways that “all I have needed thy hand hath provided.”
- I learned to lament the brokenness all around us, and inside of us. And I learned to pray more fervently, “Lord, come quickly.”
More than anything, I learned to trust God in all things, and to trust him more than I trust my circumstances. As the pandemic rages on, I am having to continue to put these things into practice. Some days it is easier to do than others.
How about you? What have you been learning this year?
I am praying for all of us to know the nearness and faithfulness of our great God as we enter 2021.
Heidleberg Catechism Q&A #1
Q.What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A.That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has delivered me from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, also assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.