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The news is full of depressing stories and social media is full of memes comparing 2020 to the worst year ever but what if you could “flip the script”? What if 2020 became the best year ever?

I know, crazy right? How can this be the best year ever?

Depression among Americans is up 600% by some figures. Suicides are at some of their highest levels. The economy is surviving but the ongoing effects of shutting it down are taking an ever increasing toll. Some surveys are even saying that 1 in 5 churches is likely to close in the next 18 months and those are just side effects of a pandemic that has claimed countless lives and driven us to distance ourselves from each other while fearing for our own health and lives.

How do you flip the script on that?

James knew a little about suffering. He was Jesus’s half brother and a principal leader of the church in Jerusalem. After being threatened with death if he didn’t recant his faith in Christ, he was thrown from the highest point of the temple and stoned to death after the fall. He had watched his brothers torture and was killed in a horrific way. This is what James said about trials and suffering:

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2–4 (ESV)

Count it all joy…
Count it all joy when you meet trials…
Count it all joy when you suffer…
Count it all joy when the news is bad…
Count it all joy when one trial comes after another…
Count it all joy.

That is so different from the world isn’t it? The world wails, cries, hides and gives up but James said we should count trials as a joy. What if 2020 isn’t the worst year ever but was, instead, the best?

That’s what James is saying, not because we’re happy people are getting sick or dying. We’re not happy people are losing their jobs, their savings and their homes. What we are happy about is the truth that God is going to use every one of these trials to complete us, perfect our faith and make us whole.

It’s a strange way to live for sure, but James lived this life. In fact, all of the apostles did.

What if you saw your current trial as an opportunity for growth? for hope? for joy?

What if in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we are joyful that our faith is growing? Our hope is growing? Our influence with those looking for hope is growing?

Rather than posting memes about the worst year ever (which it is not, BTW), we pressed hope forward, up the hill of panic and fear, and into the lives of those looking for something more. What if we saw our faith grow, our trust grow, our anticipation of good things grow?

Surely, the kind of person that could be joyful in a time like this would cause those around him/her to want to know where that joy came from.

Pastor Mark


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