There is a hashtag going around on Instagram, #thegoodlist. Some friends of mine have used it recently as a way to remember the good things that came with 2020, because we know that it is easiest to remember this year as “the year of many not-good things.”
Amazingly, 2020 was the year where the whole world suffered in similar ways. It was, in some ways, the great leveler as every country in the world faced the effects of the pandemic. And at the same time, we all felt the impact differently. The same suffering highlighted significant differences. For example, the stay-at-home order was a sweet time for my family: playing board games, baking together, dancing to Tik-Tok videos. For others, it was a time of increased abuse in the home, and the reminder that living with family is a form of suffering. Some people’s finances suffered greatly, losing their livelihoods, while others didn’t feel significant impact.
I could go on and on, listing the differences that the same unprecedented year highlighted. I wish I could sit down face to face and hear about the hard things that this year brought to you and your family. I would want to know about the losses you experienced, whether you had community around you (or at least via Zoom), and what were the particular challenges of facing the pandemic in the country you live in.
But I would also want to know how you saw God at work. How did he strengthen you? What aspect of God did you see more clearly? How did his Word shape you?
As we go into our last week of Advent, we can look back on this crazy year and find reasons to rejoice. I love how David Mathis puts it in his devotional The Christmas We Didn’t Expect:
The earthly life that began at Christmas was not to be an easy one: not at birth, not in infancy, not in adulthood […] But this life, painful and challenging as it would be, was not unacquainted with the deep, deep joy that could sustain the man of sorrows. Christmas doesn’t ignore our many pains; neither does it bid us wallow in them. Christmas takes them seriously – more seriously than any secular celebration can – and reminds us that our God has seen our pain and heard our cries for help (as in Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-9; 6:5) and he himself has come to deliver us. Christmas, at its best, gives us a peek of the uncompromised joy that is coming, and as we glimpse it, even from afar, we have a foretaste. We may be overwhelmingly sorrowful at Christmas, and yet in Christ, by His Spirit, God can give us the resilience to rejoice.”
Sister, are you in Christ? Then you have been delivered, and he has heard your cries for help! By grace, we have Christ’s resilience to rejoice this year. So how about we share, by faith and by the Spirit, our #goodlists with each other? I will go first. Please feel free to share yours in the comments.
- I started homeschooling my children and the Lord has answered my prayers that we would all love each other more as a result of all this time together.
- For the first time since arriving in this country, this past month I have felt sincere gratefulness to the Lord for bringing me here. I have been able to see more clearly how the hard things that came with moving here have been exactly what I need.
- Even though we still have health issues that demand us being careful with our diet, we have more freedom than before in what we are able to eat.
- My language has improved significantly. I can understand between 80-90% of conversations and am able to communicate clearly enough that I can sustain conversations that are couple of hours long. PTL PTL PTL
- The Lord has given me eyes to see my children more clearly and what it looks like to be faithful to each of their souls.
- I was able to serve the Spanish speaking world (via my heart-language) in different occasions from here, even though I don’t live in that world anymore.
- I was able to get to know my Arabic sisters better and cultivate friendships with them.
- I was able to participate in a Simeon Trust Bible exposition workshop twice, something I had wanted for a long time. (Greatly recommend by the way, if you want to keep making progress in knowing how to study and teach God’s word to others).
- I was able to use my gifts in my church here even though I am still limited by language.
- We went camping as a family for the first time.
- We were able to get to know our host country a little better. The highlight was finally going to Wadi Rum.
- I was able to meet some writing goals I had for myself.
- My children’s Arabic is improving.
- It may sound silly, but I was able to start decorating our house more to our liking and that really helped in making this house feel more like our home.
- We have a new team, and it has been God’s sweet provision for our whole family in more ways than one.
- The Lord is tenderly freeing me from patterns of thought and relating that have been deeply ingrained in me most of my life.
There is a lot more I could share. But now I would just really love to hear from you. I hope this list fuels thanksgiving as it helps you see and ponder the Lord’s goodness in your life.
Maybe this year we have felt more of the curse than the blessings. But our God reigns, sister. He has come to make his blessings known as far as the curse is found.
Lord, give us eyes of faith to see the unseen realities that are breaking through into our lives. Amen.
Okay, girl. Your turn.