What Was God Doing?
The year 2020 is history, but it will be archived in our minds for the remainder of our days. It was an extraordinary year that is now in our rearview mirror, yet a question about what God was doing remains.
To answer our query, we turn to Scripture. We ask what God was doing in 2020 because Scripture is relentless in asserting the sovereign governance of God over the entire universe—both the macrocosmic and microcosmic senses (1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalms 115:3; 136; Daniel 4:34-35; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:6).
We take comfort in this fact because neither Covid-19, the racial reckoning, nor any other events we experienced were outside the scope of Divine control. The Lord did not cede His rule over human affairs for even one millisecond, let alone for the 365-day transit of the earth around the sun.
We understand, because God reveals it, that He is never without purpose in whatever He does. We cannot answer all of the whys. But we can answer some of them because our Lord has disclosed them to us in His Word.
First, as I explained in a sermon delivered in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, disease is an outworking of the Fall. The Fall refers to when man first disobeyed God. The catastrophic effect of that rebellion is death and disease (death decreed by God). We are living with the results of the spiritual mutiny that transpired in the Garden of Eden.
This truth, then, informs us about life under the sun. To ignore the biblical record of Genesis 3’s explanation of world history in general, and disease and death in particular, is to cover one’s eyes at high noon on a cloudless summer day and proclaim that the sun is not shining. It is not realistic.
Second, the events of the previous year remind us that the world is not our home in an ultimate sense. There are plenty of reminders of this in Scripture, but it seems that the Lord underlines them when trouble meets us.
As Christians we have dual citizenship—earth and heaven. But the more important one is heaven. About this, Paul writes in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Lord Jesus Christ will return and take us home (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). So, we look for a better city and country (Hebrews 11:10, 16), our home, the place of our eternal citizenship, purchased by our Savior’s sacrificial, substitutionary death for us.
Our hope, then, must not ever reside in this life and world, but it is to be fixed on the grace brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We need to be reminded that life here is temporary.
Third, while we remain here and endure the maladies and tragedies common to mankind, we count on our Lord’s personal and purposeful involvement in our lives. Romans 8:28 and 29, and other texts, verify this for us. We are assured, therefore, that for us, difficulties, trials, and troubles are not wasted but are spiritually transformative.
Fourth, when 2020 began, we had no idea what we would encounter as the year unfolded, but that is true for any year. Our church’s motto for the year now gone was “2020 By Faith.” Little did we know how apropos that motto would be. Our motto will not be the same for 2021, but the sentiment expressed by it will be. We will, for a while at least, still deal with the Coronavirus and there will be doubtlessly unforeseen circumstances. But we will continue to trust our Lord in them.
As believers, we may adopt the language of Psalm 31:5 as our own, “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” We can do this confidently because we trust in God’s power and control over our lives and all our circumstances. We can face 2021 with unshakeable confidence in the Almighty One Who is able to sustain us, guide us, protect us, and provide for us. He is able to steady our feet in an unsteady world.
This we exult as the Apostle Paul did when he penned these words of doxology: “Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).