A few weeks ago, I drove to the park and wept in my car.
I’m guessing you can relate. Maybe you’ve had your own moments of hiding in your closet or alone time in your car. Perhaps the stress of this year is wearing on you, too.
I’ll admit, the last 6 months have been a bit much. My aunt died, most of my family got COVID-19, I lost a friend to cancer, my work dwindled, and the chaos of the world flared my chronic illness and PTSD.
In truth, I’ve got a bad case of “2020 Fatigue”. I’m tired of the stress, tired of the mess, tired of waiting for the next shoe to drop. Each new circumstance cues my anxiety like clockwork.
It’s like the world is on fire (oh wait, it is) and someone just keeps turning up the heat. And this girl can only take so much disaster bingo.
So I cried out all the feels in my car. I asked God to just make it stop. I was too weary, too weak, too inept to handle it all.
And perhaps that’s the point.
As much as I’m ready for this year to end, 2020 may be a crucible rather than a curse.
Sometimes God uses the storms of life to reveal our hearts to us. He draws our deep-seated fears and issues to the surface that might otherwise remain hidden.
When your pain doesn’t end and your goals remain blocked, eventually your true colors will show. Do you get mad? Depressed? Anxious? Complain? Do you tighten your grip? Or give up and quit?
True, this year has been a bit much. But what is really too much is how I keep thinking I can handle it. That if I try harder, I can get a grip on my fear. I keep believing that I can manage the uncertainty and control all the outcomes in my life.
One hardship may have fooled me into thinking I can do this on my own. But a whole year of global chaos and personal turmoil? That’s enough to pull me under.
The ironic thing about drowning is that you can’t save yourself. If you could, then you wouldn’t be drowning. When you’re in over your head, you need someone else to rescue you.
Problem was, I wouldn’t admit that I was barely keeping my head above water. I just kept flailing and paddling against the raging current of a storm that was too powerful for me. The more effort I mustered, the more worn out I became.
I kept trying to survive when instead I just needed to surrender.
The storms of life remind me again of what’s actually been true all along. I need a savior. I am not in control, I cannot save the world, and I cannot fix myself. I need Jesus today as much as I did that first day He rescued me. My own strength will never be enough to turn the tide in my life. Deliverance comes when, like Peter, I cry out from the waves, “Lord, save me!” (Matt 14:30-31).
God loved me enough to bring me to the end of all my striving ways. He has used this year to remind me that He, not me, is really in control of the world and my life in the first place. God doesn’t need me to prove that I can handle the hard stuff. He doesn’t need me to try harder or keep it together.
He just wants my faith.
All that’s required of me this year is that I trust Him. And Jesus will handle the rest.
For the remainder of 2020, God is inviting us to walk with Him. To trust Him in the mess. To give Him our fears and cares, daily. To remember that Jesus is the One who saves and holds the world in His hands. To repent of our own way of doing things (it’s not working anyway) and rely on Him every day, for everything.
I can view this year as a giant waste or as the stimulus of God’s purifying work in me. Growth is an uncomfortable but necessary process. I can let circumstances drive me to fear or faith, hostility or humility, self-sufficiency or surrender. Hardship can make me double-down and tighten my grip on control. Or it can serve as a reminder that I desperately need Jesus and His sustaining grace every single day.
At some point 2020 will come and go. When you look back on it, will you remember it as the year you survived or as the year that changed your life?
God knows our growth is vital for surviving the storms ahead. Whatever you are facing right now, let God do His refining work in you. Listen for His message in the mess. Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you (1 Pet 5:7). See how He is working all things together for your good (Rom 8:28). And when next year comes, perhaps we’ll discover that hindsight really is 2020.