I consider it an honor to get to welcome you to the new year 2021. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. 2020 has come to a close, and the new year promises to be better or different, at least. Yesterday the sermon covered the first part of Nehemiah, and we saw him sent out by the king to rebuild the wall. This week we’ll be looking at how we can be rebuilding our lives in similar ways. Like the title says, I’m going to try to encourage you to recount the events of 2020 with fresh eyes so we can potentially see the bigger picture of what the Lord is doing. Sometimes looking behind us is an intimidating proposition; consider Psalms 23:4

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4

Since everyone goes through valleys at some point in their life, I think we can glean some hard-fought truths from what we’ve gone through so far. This COVID pandemic makes for a considerable valley, but as the psalmist said, I will fear no evil because you [God] are with me. God rarely lets us bypass the valley; instead, he walks with us right through the center of it. His rod and staff are navigation tools and powerful reminders that he’s still very, very close to us.

Something that can really help with perspective is going over various stressful or scary events of the last year in your recollection and look for how the Lord has brought you through. He has a way of leaving some detail in our memories, like a watermark of sorts. So that in hindsight, you can clearly control the whole situation. Maybe go through your cellphone photos of the last year and potentially rediscover some minor event you forgot about that had God’s providence all over it. If you journal, maybe go back and read about a situation you were unsure of and then see how God provided in that perfect way.

I imagine there are quite a few of you who are contending with unpleasant complications carried over from last year’s COVID. Seems like this thing won’t end, but that’s only because the Lord hasn’t finished with it. God’s plan isn’t threatened in the least, and we’ll be better off for it. So take heart and anticipate God’s loving-kindness to be evident through all this.

Jonathan Duncan

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