There is no need to mince words or beat around the bush: 2020 has been a difficult, challenging, even painful year for most of us.
Obviously, you can start with the millions of people who have caught the virus, along with the families of those who have died from it. Then there are the many who are understandably fearful of catching it or having a loved one catch it. There are the millions who have been economically impacted by the lockdown measures. There are the many who have dealt with depression and/or anxiety sparked by loneliness, worry, or any other number of factors.
The list could continue to go on for multiple pages, I’m sure. I’ll let you fill in the blank with the additional challenges you’ve faced this year as well. In short, it’s been a tough year.
For today’s article I want to share a verse that has helped me through my own struggles lately. Check out Psalm 27:13, first in the NKJV and then in the ESV.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living!
Notice the slight difference in wording, particularly the added italic section in the NKJV. What we have there is the translators’ attempt to convey the meaning of the verse, but (to the best of my understanding), the Hebrew tails off and leaves the sentence unfinished. Much like we would say after a near car wreck, for example, “Boy, if I hadn’t slammed on the brakes when I did…”
We don’t need the “…” to be completed, because we can see where that sentence is going. The implication is almost “I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if not for that.”
This is much like what David is saying in Psalm 27:13. “Man, if I didn’t have faith that God’s goodness would come through…” David’s story, of course, involves King Saul’s attempts to murder him, his exile as he ran for his life and was separated from seeing his family and being able to worship, and false witnesses slandering his good name. To top it off, Saul took back the daughter he had given to David in marriage, robbing David of his wife.
It does us no good to compare the different kinds and levels of pain and stress people go through, as if it was some kind of competition. But, we can suffice it to say that David knew well some of the emotions we’re feeling this year, emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and hopelessness.
What kept him going? The knowledge that he would see God’s goodness through it all. That was his light at the end of the tunnel.
In the meantime, as he sat in the darkness, he trained himself to do two things:
- Seek God’s presence continually.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.” (27:4 NKJV)
“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’
My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.'”
When times are tough and we may even feel that God is far off, that’s when we have to set our minds to seek His presence. Our faith in God’s goodness is what keeps us going. Because we believe that, we seek Him no matter what comes our way.
Having a toddler in the house has truly shown me the concept of childlike faith, and she perfectly bears out what David means by seeking God. When she gets hurt, she seeks me or her mommy. When she’s hungry, she seeks us. When she’s excited about something, she seeks us. When she needs love and attention, she seeks us. She knows we’ll take care of what she needs, and she acts on it. That’s exactly how we’re supposed to seek God.
- Wait on God.
Just because God doesn’t come through for us right away, or because we aren’t getting the desired answers to our prayers, it doesn’t mean we despair. That’s when we train ourselves to wait and let God be God.
A quote commonly attributed to Nazi concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom says it best: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” Every dark tunnel is a chance to build our faith in God (James 1:2-4). When He comes through for us, as He always does, we have occasion for even greater thanks and praise, which makes us stronger for the next dark tunnel in life. Learning to wait on God is one of the great uses of life’s dark tunnels.
I don’t know what you, the reader, are going through right now. Maybe you’re doing well, all things considered, or maybe the trials of 2020 are wearing you down. Regardless, we’re all going to hit those dark tunnels in life. Isn’t it so much better going through them knowing we can count on the goodness of God?