As we are almost at the end of year 2020, I just want to reflect on what God taught us a family through these months. This is going to be a long post. But I hope and pray that you will be encouraged and strengthened as you read this.
While it was painful and disturbing to see the effect of COVID 19 across the globe, the God whom we serve is always good and He remains eternally faithful. We as a family experienced that especially during this year.
A quick glance at year 2020 (January– November)
Some of our loved ones fell really sick due to COVID 19 and few people close to our heart passed away during this pandemic time. We saw people loosing their jobs, visas being rejected. They had to move out of the country and it is all painful and unexpected. Going through these situations and seeing peoples lives being turned upside down was not a pleasant experience. But during these months of uncertainty and struggles, we were able to experience peace of God and unexplainable Joy in His presence.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV
This year was our son’s first year in school, Kindergarten class. But his first day in school was nothing like what we expected. He was disappointed when we told him that classes are online and there will not be a school bus ride, which he was looking forward to. And our daughter really misses her friends in school and she is so sad that she is not able to make any new friends this school year. And for me, who was looking forward to some ‘me’ time after sending my husband to office and kids to school; it was totally a different experience with everyone at home and getting unusually busy with helping kids in their classes, zoom meetings, writing and doing the regular household chores. We never really let our kids use technology by their own. But now they are in their iPads and laptops for at least 6 to 8 hours a day!!! What an year it has been?!!
Beginning of this year, as optimistic as we are, we planned for a Grand Canyon trip with friends and it got cancelled. After all these years this was the first big trip we planned with out any ties attached such as weddings or other family functions. This was really to relax and enjoy God’s creation. But it didn’t happen. Before we could really enjoy worship service in the new church building everything got shut down. VBS, picnics, youth retreats, Sunday school activities, worship nights every plan we made either got cancelled or it became virtual gatherings. And for our friends and families blessed with new born babies this year, they got confined to their homes with the newborns, without much delightful visits from friends and families. The elderly people were restricted from all sort of social gatherings. Marriages, funerals got limited to less than 10 people coming together.
Social distancing, cases, masks, zoom, ventilators, vitamin c, corona,google meet, webex, virtual, host, co-host, vaccines, quarantine, isolation, screening, regulations, race, election, protest, violence, looting, conceding, heart attacks, stroke, cough, collapse, stress, anxiety, lock down, phase, death toll became popular words for this year. We tried everything we could from our human strength to come out of this reality; following regulations to taking immunizations and drinking more fluids, eating healthy foods we tried them all. But still situation didn’t change.
Along with the pandemic, lives were devastated by natural disasters like hurricanes, flood, tornado, wild fires. We saw with a heavy heart what Beirut explosion did to an entire city. There was civil unrest and refugee crisis in different parts of the world. Millions of people lost their lives and families were left without hope.
Goodness of God
When people thought God doesn’t care for them anymore and they used all their energy and resources to blame God; few of God’s children remained faithful knowing that God is good and His faithfulness and goodness doesn’t depend on circumstances. While we were wondering what good can happen during these difficult days, God said He got this and He is able to bring beauty from ashes and all we have to do is to trust Him. As Psalmist says in Psalm 77;
“Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”
Psalm 77:19 ESV
A wise man once said “even if you take God out of this equation, you still got pain and suffering; but because of the presence of Christ in us we have hope!”. He is unchanging and our God is same yesterday, today and forever!!. Only if we could realize our frailty and helplessness and turn our eyes to Jesus.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”- Hymn by Helen H Lemmel.
Everything looked different this year and yet we saw God’s perfect plan unfolding in our lives through it all. Kings and kingdoms were shaken. When we thought things will get better only if it happens in certain way that we desire, God proved it all wrong and taught us that He is in control and He is greater than anyone!! So many things we thought impossible in our human mind, God made it possible. So many deliverances, healings, important decisions, new life beginnings happened. We saw God’s name alone being glorified through all these months with everything happened in our life. We experienced His presence in our lives as Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Nissy. We enjoyed His righteousness, mercy, goodness, love, peace, the complete satisfaction in His presence. We as a family testify today that Almighty God, Omnipotent God, who is all powerful, spoke all things into being; got everything under His control and there is nothing too difficult for Him to do!!
As apostle Paul says in Colossians we felt the presence of Christ living inside of us, hope of glory!. Like never before, God made us come more closer to Him. More than any other year, with all this adverse conditions, this year God is enabling us to reach more people with His love, word and testimonies. He pushed us out of our comfort zones and revealed His greatness in our lives. With all the busyness of our lives we were reminded of His presence in us and the Spirit of God gave us wisdom to take right decisions in all important turns of life. Personally I was amazed by God’s ways and plans which led us through mighty waters and storms of the life. In moments we thought we lost it all, God said, He is not yet done and He helped us not to give up hope. Jesus Christ is our peace and Joy and ‘in Him’ we stand. Today I testify that if it was not for His presence and grace in our lives, I won’t be writing this blog and we would have been perished long ago.
Social distancing and our social well being.
Through it all Christ taught us to trust in Him and rest upon in Him. He taught us to to rest upon His promises and listen to His voice and obey Him even when we disagree. We learned to worship Him through every situations and realized He is our peace and Joy and nothing else can satisfy us. When we thought we will not be able to meet people and build new friendships, God brought so many new people into our lives. God enabled us to serve them and helped us to be a blessing to each other. Kids got some good friends in our neighborhood. God answered their prayers by moving people from other states to live near us. Praise God!! Many of the broken relationships were mended and forgiveness was all around. We saw God using the experiences He led us through and lessons He taught us, strengthening many people around us. He gave us the boldness to share His good news and the testimonies of His work in our lives. He strengthened our hands to bless others in their needs. Through hard ways we learned it not about ‘us’, but it is all about ‘HIM’ and all for HIS GLORY. While the process was painful and required patience and complete trust in Jesus, today I look back I’m so much grateful for Jesus Christ and His authority over our lives.
God ordered our steps- Delighting in God!
We saw the hand of God working all around us. We saw His greatness and power at work. This year has been a year in which God opened our eyes to see How wonderful and awesome He is!!.
God is all powerful and the entire creation is waiting for His command to move. He does whatever is pleasing to His heart and for His glory alone. It is so humbling to know that God the Father sent His Son to redeem us from death and destruction and through that He showed His love for us. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our life, makes us His children and that is what is so special about us. Christ made His home inside of us!!! The moment that we realize it and practice His presence, our lives will change. And when times we forget that, we will go away from His presence and we will get tired and will be left empty.
Many times during these past months I was reminded of these two specific verses.
“Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.”
Jeremiah 5:22 ESV
God has set the boundaries for the waters of the sea that it will not cross it. Everything happens according to His word and command.
“You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.”
Psalm 104:9 ESV
This is another verse from Psalms 104 which really strengthened me during these past months.
“He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.”
Psalms 104:4 NIV
To the wind and fire, our God commands and they do His will! God makes His ways through waters and sea. He works in ways we don’t understand nor comprehend. We saw God doing wonders in our life when we trusted in Him. This year has been an year when immigration laws for US got more stricter and we were worried so much about our future in this country. But even with all the unfavorable conditions, God opened amazing ways for us. We got the extension to stay for longer time that we expected and we were able to get into the final stage of our permanent resident application. God ordered our steps and rules were changed on our behalf and more than any other year we had peace and calmness in that area. God surrounded us with family and friends who stood with us supported us and prayed fervently for us all through this journey.
This year even with its busyness and disappointments, God enabled me to be more productive and helped me to sit in His presence and intercede for the needs of others. I got enough rest and more time to read and meditate on His word and write about things He is speaking to me and teaching me. Through different ways Christ enabled me to listen and obey His voice. There were times that it didn’t make any sense to my mind. But when I obeyed, I saw His hand at work and God’s name being glorified through that. Through ways beyond my understanding God opened ways to pursue my higher education in our state university.
Abounding in thanksgiving
Before I conclude this post I just want to remind all those who are reading this to put your trust in Jesus! He has a great plan for you. Even when you find it so hard to praise Him or thank Him, choose to do it. Look harder and you will find reasons to Thank Him. He is right there, where you left Him. I know for many of you things got really bad, you may be at the end of your rope. But let go off that rope and hold on to Jesus. If there is anything I learned from this pandemic is that nothing can stop our God and His plans for our life. He does everything for His glory and that is the best reward. To see Christ being glorified through our lives.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
Christ wants us to be abounding in thanksgiving!. That is what we can offer unto Him , a heart full of gratitude. Thank Him for everything. He is at work in our lives and in this world.
“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” —A. W Tozer
My prayer for you;
As I conclude I pray for all of you that God will open your eyes to see His goodness and you will discern and know the will of God as you choose to walk more closer to Him and trust Him. Let us all look forward to what God has in store for us and prepare ourselves to receive Christ our King!
May God bless you all.