It has been interesting reading our Christmas cards and letters. There has obviously been a major theme and that is the crazy year that 2020 has been; but, what has varied is the way in which the writers have viewed the events of this past year. Some of the comments have been all negative as if the year were only full of bad, harmful things and an overall loss. Others have commented about how they appreciated the extra time spent at home and with family, doing things together and accomplishing some home projects that they may not have had the time or opportunity to do in a more “normal” year. In other words there was a wide spectrum of perspectives. It has been said that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 % how you respond; i.e., what is your perspective or attitude? What we find depends mainly on what we searching for and much of what we see depends on what we are looking for.
The Apostle Paul had a list, that none of us can match, of negative things that happened to him. In his second letter to the Corinthian church he reiterated a few of his most challenging experiences: “… in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep…in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labors and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (II Cor. 11:23-28). Yet in all of this, Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).
I believe the secret to Paul’s facing such adversity and being content is in another statement he made in his letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18). Paul was looking at things from God’s perspective—an eternal one. Thus he could look upon his adversity as “light” and “momentary” and insignificant compared with the glory that lay ahead in eternity. He shared that same perspective with the believers at Rome, writing: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Ro. 8:18). In other words, Paul viewed each day with eternity’s values in view.
That would be a great goal for each of us this coming year. Dallas Holm, Christian recording artist, wrote: “when you get the perspective that God is preparing us for eternity, these (daily challenges) are just little blips on the radar screen of life.” Focusing on Christ puts everything else in proper perspective. “In Western Christianity especially, we have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God” (Larry Crabb). Even if everything looks bad, God is good—all the time! Trust Him. We don’t know what challenges we will face in 2021, but rest assured, God has already been there. He goes before us and will be there for us. He’s got our back. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise and since He is with us wherever we go, we are equipped to face whatever should come our way in 2021. So, keep a “God perspective” and you are ready to face 2021 head on. May you experience His peace and joy this coming year.