After a traumatic year because of the coronavirus strain COVID-19, that affected every country across the planet, we arrive at the last day of the year, battered in so many ways. As we look backwards, for some there is extreme bereavement because of the loss of a loved one, some because of Covid, some because of other reasons. Some have lost their employment or business, others have lost interest on their pension investment. The various forms of lock down restrictions have caused so many to struggle with fatigue, frustration and financial loss. Let’s look at that as the past, though let’s not think the immediate future will be an improvement.
Many thought that January 2021 would be a new year, new start … almost back to normal … yet the shocking reality is that not only is a second wave rolling throughout the country … another strain of the virus have manifested itself. One consolation is that this pandemic is not localized to South Africa or to our province or suburb. It is a worldwide phenomenon. Everyone is in the same boat.
So, here we are at the 31st December 2020 and the 1st January 2021 is not going to be any different. So how do we face tomorrow and the coming year?
Firstly, no one knows where this virus is going. We pray and plea with the Lord Jesus to hear our prayer, yet in His Sovereignty, His timing and our timing are different. We understand that in His grace, He has permitted this virus to ravish the world to get the attention of the masses, yet sadly for most this is not happening. There are, however, many who have read this pandemic correctly and have cast themselves upon God and His mercy. They have sought to deepen their relationship with the King of kings. They have sought to live a repentant lifestyle, understanding that Covid has not respect for people and could claim their life without notice. This is the only sensible thing to do, because any life could be the next life and those unprepared would be like the five foolish virgins:
Mt 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Secondly, believers know where the Lord Jesus is leading. Although some would present the Christian cause as only blessings and prosperity, true Christianity is best portrayed by John Bunyan in his priceless book ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ as a hard and tough journey leading to glory. Jesus puts it like this:
Mt 7:13 ‘“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Paul and his missionary team put it like this (see end of verse 22):
Ac 14:21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Our Lord leads us through the hardships not around them. We don’t seek to force the hand of God to lead us into perfect peace whilst the journey is intended to be rough and tough … to shape and prepare us, to purify and perfect us and to ready us for glory. We read:
1Pe 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
In verse 3 to 6 we find the security of our souls (the eternal security of the saints) followed by verses 6-7, the purification of the soul ending with verse 8-9 speaking about the assurance of our salvation. Through this pandemic, Jesus is leading us home.
Thirdly, having said what I have above, may I say, Blessed New Year to you! 2021 might not be the year we expected, but as Jesus leads and we followed in obedience it will be a good year because we know that in Christ we have the eternal security of our souls, the purification of our souls and the assurance of salvation.
God, thank You for Your kindness in salvation. Mercifully help us to trust You throughout 2021 and the years that follow. Create within us pure hearts to remain focused on and glued to the Occupant on the Throne of Glory. Help us to resolve to live through COVID-19 and into 2021 to bring pleasure and glory to You, O God. Amen.