I once read a quote by Herwing Arts that says, “Suffering deepens, weakens, or embitters a person, but it never leaves things as they were.”  2020 was a year of great suffering. We’ve lost friends, family members, businesses, and even the ability to give a brotherly or sisterly hug to someone without reservation.
Times like this require us to ask some difficult questions like...
What’s really important in life?
What is God trying to show us in all of this?
Now that this happened, who is the person that I want to become?
How we answer these questions has a greater impact on our future than we might think. The lens through which we view our suffering can enrich our faith by drawing us closer to the cross, or it can cause us to drift from God and become overwhelmed with all of the craziness in this world. We never stay neutral in our faith walk. We’re either growing or receding.
The direction that we’re moving in; however, is not necessarily determined by the emotions that we feel or some of the internal battles that we face.
For example, when the COVID-19 virus swept across the world, many of us experienced fear because we were informed that this virus could be deadly and we didn’t know how a person contracted it. Fear is an emotion that we feel anytime we sense danger. God gave us this emotion as a measure to propel us to take action against a threat. So the mere fact that we felt fear when faced with a global pandemic was not indicative of a lack of faith. In this example, the depth of our faith was tested by how we responded when we felt afraid.
Ask yourself, “Did I run to God when I was afraid and asked Him to give me strength and wisdom to respond to the adversity in front of me, or did I allow the fear that I felt to paralyze me? Those are two distinct responses. The first response still acknowledged the gravity of the problem, but its focus was on God who gives us the strength and council we need to persevere in our suffering. The second response was so focused on the problem, that it became all-consuming, leaving no room for God.
Whether your biggest pain point in 2020 was fear, grief, disappointment, financial insecurity, or a culmination of it all, it is our response to suffering that shapes us not the event itself. You might have experienced more pain in 2020 than you’ve experienced in a lifetime, and I’m not here to diminish the magnitude of what you felt.
Yet, I must remind you that even during the darkest valleys of our lives, God is still with us. The Word of God promises us that, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).
2020 could have felt like it crushed you, but it didn’t. You are still here, for a purpose, and God has given you the strength you need to stand. But if your focus continues to remain solely on your pain, you won’t be able to see that. You have to make a decision not to let the disappointment and loss that you have experienced in 2020 to embitter you. encourage you to make a commitment not to cross the threshold into 2021 with bitterness in your heart.
Be honest with the Lord about your pain, about your questions, and the troubles that have wounded your heart, and place the burdens at the feet of God. Let Him help you carry that yoke, that you were never meant to carry alone.
God is telling you...
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
So as you prepare to say goodbye to 2020, I pray that this year has changed you for the better. If it has, please share how in the comment section below. Subscribe to our email list to receive other messages of encouragement HERE.
 Arts, Herwing, “God, The Christian and Human Suffering.” Liturgical Press (1993): 3.