Today is the last day of 2020. Most of us will be glad to say good-bye to this past year!
Yesterday, on my Facebook feed, I posted a survey with the question “Describe 2020 in one word.” I received nearly 200 responses with one-worders such as: dreadful, long, turbulent, isolating, challenging, unbelievable, destructive, mind-boggling, unnerving, chaotic, outrageous, disruptive, sad, sobering, lonely, strange, controlling, crazy, nightmare, conspiracy, historical and 180 more! “Quarantine” has displaced “lockdown” and “pandemic” to be crowned Word of the Year 2020. It was the most highly searched for word on the Cambridge Dictionary.
One year ago, the cover article for the January-February 2020 issue of the Beyond Today magazine was “The 2020s are Here. Are You Ready?”
We were not.
I don’t think that anyone was prepared for what followed in the early part of the year and persists to this day. And now, a year later, the cover article for the January-February 2021 issue of Beyond Today challenges us with “How You Can Help the Worn and Weary.” It addresses some of the effects of this past year’s events on us and offers practical instruction about what we should be doing for everyone’s benefit. It would do us good to read and practice this advice, as it contains the hopeful remedy for even our own darkness.
Thank you for our ministry!
I’d like to express a special note of thanks to all our ministry around the world for their faithful service. I know it has been a tough year. The trials of 2020 have impacted your work, your families, your health and your congregations through cancellations, restrictions, lockdowns, conflicting information, isolation and constant disappointment. Loneliness and uncertainty have been the norm and have taken their toll. We miss the time together in person as well as the hugs. We can be on edge, not knowing fully what to plan and what to do.
Yet our men and women in the ministry have performed heroically. I commend you for stepping up to your calling and doing your job with patience and diplomacy.
Members regularly write to me telling me how you have taken the time to call them and inquire about their well-being. Some tell me that while they rarely see anyone from the Church in person, they know that their pastor is thinking of them.
They have commented about your innovative Bible studies, sometimes mid-day using video meetings that have become suitable for interactive discussion. Brethren have remarked on how their children have been enriched through online Bible school.
They appreciate your newsletters, congregational Facebook groups, and other electronic means to stay connected, to be included, and not be forgotten. You are loved and appreciated. Keep up the good work!
This brings me back to this week’s column and Terri Eddington’s article “How You Can Help the Worn and Weary.” Her main point is profound in that it’s not primarily searching for help for yourself; rather it’s about us helping others.
Lifting up someone’s spirits goes a long way in times like this. This past week a minister called me and started a conversation. I was waiting for him to tell me the purpose of his call. Finally, I prompted him. He said that he was simply calling to see how I was doing. He had no questions, no requests, no problems, just a kind call to see how I was doing. I appreciate the practice described by Shakespeare as “the milk of human kindness.” His call perked me up for the day.
There are many people around you right now who feel like you do. We may not give much thought to their state of mind, but may very well benefit from your nurturing outreach and encouraging words. This article details how that can be done through physical assistance, gentleness, patience and prayer.
Weary friends want to let you know how thankful they are for your forgiveness, for listening to them, and for remembering them.
In the unkind times in which we live, some of the simplest yet most vital elements of human interaction often get buried and are forgotten. Two of the most important are saying “thank you” and the other is genuinely saying “I’m sorry.”
Your kind words to others can do wonders as described in these thoughts in Proverbs 25:
• A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
• Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.
• Like the cold of snow in time of harvest [like refreshing ice in a drink on a hot day] is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.
• By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.
We live in the perilous times of the last days described in 2 Timothy 3:1-6 2 Timothy 3:1-6  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
American King James Version×: “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
But, before we turn away, we should brighten the space around us. Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16  You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house.
 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×).
Not only are we to be visible, we are to illuminate the space around us with godly attitudes, behavior and deeds.
2021 arrives tomorrow. Are we ready? Give thought to how we will proactively react to what may come down. We should be spiritually ready to shine in and illuminate this ugly world.
When we come to the end of 2021 and when asked to describe the year, maybe some of the words we use will be: overcoming, perseverance, helping, thankful, serving, trusting, loving, optimistic, joyful.
My prayers go out for all of you. Please pray for us.