As most of us do at the end of a year, I’ve been reflecting on 2020. For all of us, 2020 was an interesting year and as a collective, we can say that it was difficult and emotional. Even if you weren’t negatively impacted by the pandemic or the subsequent actions taken because of the pandemic, we all still feel this sense of heaviness.
Honestly, I was very fortunate this year. Few people in my immediate family got COVID-19. I haven’t lost any family or friends because of it. Chase and I were lucky enough that our jobs were largely unaffected. As a matter of fact, we saw growth this year at my job. Other than some initial stress and isolation at the start of quarantine, we haven’t faced any serious struggles. However, when I look back at 2020, it still has that happy-sad hue to it.
While most of my life stayed the same in 2020 just with lots of new masks, one specific area of my life was hit hard: my faith. I’ve heard from many Christians that this year has been difficult for them. There’s a reason that scripture tells us not to neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Christian community is vital when it comes to walking with the Lord.
I’m so thankful for all the churches and leaders who went above and beyond to provide digital ways for people to still join together in worship and even continue their normal Sunday School or Small Group gatherings. For many, these efforts made a world of difference, but for me, the church closing could not have happened at a worse time in my life.
As someone who grew up in church, I was there every time the doors opened. Most of my closest friends were my “church friends.” I’ve always had a built-in faith community but graduating from college and transitioning to young married life isn’t always easy. For my husband and I, we’ve struggled to find our community since getting married, and that wasn’t helped by church going completely digital just a few months into our marriage.
To top it off, our church at the time was still searching for a pastor and we just weren’t sure if our home church was where we needed to be anymore. That doubt turned into complacency very quickly and next thing you know, it’s been 6+ months of not watching or going to church.
If you grew up in a Baptist church, chances are you’ve taken the LifeWay spiritual gifts assessment. I took it several times growing up. Each time I took it some things would change a little bit but the one thing that stayed the same was that my number one gift was faith. I had the kind of faith that I thought was unshakable. I never ever questioned God. I only ever questioned myself and my understanding, but that all changed in 2020.
Combining what was happening in the world with a loss of Christian community the voices of doubt became so loud I couldn’t drown them out. It didn’t matter how much Christian music I listened to or how much I read my bible, the voices were still there, louder than ever. It got to a point where the doubts I had were so loud that I was scared to pray or look for an answer because what would I do if there wasn’t one?
Luckily, God is much bigger than I am and much smarter too. He knew exactly the people I needed in my life and the conversations I needed to have. Looking back now at the end of 2020 it seems silly to me the things that I allowed to almost destroy my faith. It was such a small thing, but I had gotten so disconnected and felt so hopeless in the midst of it all that I couldn’t even bring myself to look for the answer that God had there all along.
2020 was difficult for many of us, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, but as I look back, I can see good in it too. James 1 says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” While I know that I’m still lacking in many things, I also know that the trials of 2020 have cultivated a steadfastness that I didn’t previously have.
If you’re a fellow Christian who is struggling with doubts like you’ve never known, I have one word of encouragement for you. Run to God because He is big enough to handle all of your questions. If we truly believe that He is the Author of all creation and works all things together for our good and His glory, then trust Him with your doubts. Trust Him in the process of learning, growing, and being sanctified.
In 2 Peter 3, Peter concludes his letter by encouraging the Church to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the verse God’s laid on my heart for this year through our new pastor at my home church. The same home church where doubts made me question if we should even be there anymore. Isn’t it beautiful how God redeems situations in our lives?
I never again want to run away from His truth and grace out of fear of the unknown. I want to know and experience His grace more as I grow in my knowledge and understanding of Him. I hope you’ll join me!