Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Never in my life has "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” felt less wonderful than it seems to feel this year. Sure, God has blessed my own life abundantly with a great career, relationships, and deeper relationship with Him, but there have still been personal problems because of COVID, and I see a lot of others struggling as well.
This isn’t limited to unbelievers, because the church is really struggling, with believers suffering from depression more than ever, and more people are leaving the church than before, or so it seems.
Yet there are people coming to faith still, in spite of the circumstances – over 3000 teenagers have contacted one TIkTok evangelist for one-on-one discipleship. And according to the Bible app YouVersion, people have been engaging more than ever.
Does this mean my hope relies on people still coming to know God in spite of the circumstances? No, that’s merely a product of what’s retaining hope for me – my hope right now is in who God is. I can only think of a few things in the Bible that never change – the most prevalent one is that God Himself never changes. Who He is will always be a constant perfect in spite of how much we don’t deserve Him. We will always have sin IN THIS LIFE, but heaven and earth will pass away, while His word never passes away (Matthew 24:35).
God loves you. Jesus went to the cross, died for our sins, and rose again that we might also rise with Him, so that we should not hope in the world or anything other than Him. This is not a message for the non-Christian, in case you haven’t guessed – if you don’t have any reason to believe in the Almighty, this is probably past when you can stop reading. But if you do believe in some higher power, especially if you believe in the God of the Bible, keep reading.
During a year like this, we have so little – even those of us who tend to have very good lives have had a lot stripped away that we normally associate with this time of year. Yet that means we can fall back on the One who was originally celebrated at this time of year, before it became about family and gifts and seasonal stuff (things I’m not against - they were just never meant to be the focus).
Now is a great opportunity for us to re-evaluate, especially those of us who are Christians, how much we really value God at this time of year. For me, it’s definitely convicting, because I love the holidays, and part of me is so used to worship of the cross all year long that this time of year can feel … less special. If anything, it’s harder because of my disconnect from my unbelieving family members, and every year as I grow closer to Christ, that disconnect only seems to get more challenging.
Yet we have amazing hope that really stands out right now, because there’s clearly so little hope in the world – even with COVID possibly ending soon due to the vaccines being distributed, it’s clear how easily this world can really crumble. People can see now that there needs to be hope in something greater, because anything less than God will surely come to ruin.
In order to be the lights of the world in this dark time (not just saying that because the days are so short), I really think the first step is to just work on ourselves, and let the gospel hit our hearts. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). We deserve WAY worse than this pandemic, and in fact it’s been a blessing that it happened when we have access to Zoom and other apps that allow us to communicate with each other in spite of not being able to physically gather. “Yet You have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for You have dealt faithfully, and we have dealt wickedly.” – Nehemiah 9:33
Second, we really do need to empathize with those who don’t have this hope. If the gospel really hits your heart, you’ll know it and have a much greater peace in spite of what’s happening all around us. If you believe but aren’t feeling this, I’d encourage you to seek counseling. So imagine what it’s like for people who DON’T have believe and DON’T have that hope - a hope I personally want them to have. I recently read a book by John Piper where he talks about how sharing our faith is a vital part of our joy in Christ, and that it is a joy to share our faith. Unfortunately, churches can treat it like a burden, and we can feel burdened because it’s uncomfortable. YET NOW it’s clearer than ever how in need people are of some TRULY good news that isn’t a couple of fleeting news stories or a distracting meme (I don’t mind either of these in the right dosage and context), but something more permanent, something that really matters personally.
Yeah, you probably guessed step three is sharing the gospel – but there’s a reason why it’s the third step. It’s something we need to do from overflowing hearts out of our compassion and love that comes from GOD, not from ourselves. How can we who are inherently evil conjure up love in ourselves? It comes from God, and most of us don’t really have that, but in these unique circumstances, we have this great opportunity to win souls for God’s Kingdom. And He wants to use us, so all we have to do is ask with open hearts, and He will give abundantly.
Maybe then, if we really do refocus our mental and physical efforts, this really can be the most wonderful time of the year – it just has to be focused on God. Otherwise, it’ll be just as helpless as the rest of the year has felt.
Joe from “walkwithgod” ( youtube.com/walkwithgod )