Holding onto Gospel Truth

What if you were to sit down and reflect on 2020, jotting down lessons learned as you did so? What truths are clearer to you now and more deeply held now than they were a year ago?

I took time to evaluate my life through the past year. Here were my instant realizations.

Ø I am a great sinner, greater that I ever realized.

Ø I am weak and not in control of … well, anything.

Ø Brokenness is rampant; our world is broken, on so many levels.

Nothing earth-shattering, I know. Even if rather obvious, these are sobering thoughts, as well as biblical ones.

Basically, I am more needy than I knew. Theologically, I’ve understood my total depravity in a “The Bible says it, I believe it” sort of way. Experientially, I’ve known I am a sinner, but 2020 was revelatory. Wouldn’t you agree that the stripping of expectations, of perceived control, of independence and the like has a way of revealing the origin of our true joy, the relative depth of our unity, the source of our sense of worth, the level of our confidence in God, to name just a few? And the revelation isn’t always pleasant.

Thankfully, as these realizations came to mind, they were accompanied by other truths, hope-filled ones.

Ø God’s Word is more beautiful and richer than I ever realized.

Ø The Gospel is glorious, every single day.

Ø God can and does satisfy because nothing else truly does.

Ø This is God’s world and His church, and He is still at work.

With a deepening sense of need comes a deeper appreciation for the hope of the Gospel, a greater reliance on God’s Word, and a desire for a more God-focused joy. The result is a more steadfast outlook and comforting peace.

As 2020 is remembered, losses, disappointments, and frustration will be mentioned. The world will talk of progress stopped and of just waiting for normal to return. But for us, those whose hope is in Christ, what will top the list? What will I first mention to my grandchildren as I reminisce about this year? Will it be disappointments or Gospel truths? 2020 may be remembered for all that went wrong or for all that God taught us through it. For if God used it to shape us more into His image, it has been for our good; it was not wasted.

I have so much more to learn, lessons to better grasp and apply, truths to more deeply embrace. Over the last few months, through Sunday morning messages, the examples seen in the Psalms show us how to handle life’s turmoil. I want to remember the Psalmists’ reaction when life got rough.

As we embark on 2021, when I see more of my sin, I will remember Psalm 130, “With you, there is forgiveness (4), with him is plentiful redemption (7)”, or Psalm 85:2, “You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin.” If the result is a deepening of my grasp of the Gospel, and a greater capacity to savor its beauty, it will definitely be for my good.

And whenever it seems the world is out of control, I will seek to remember Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” And that realization will be for my good.

When disappointments come, I will seek true and lasting satisfaction in Christ. Psalm 90:14 shows us the way, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

In the Psalms, we have repeatedly seen that God is our helper, and He will keep us! With the Psalmist I want to cry out, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). Whatever may come in 2021, He is our keeper (Psalm 121:5).

On my own, this is just wishful thinking, beginning-of-the-year short-lived resolutions. As I just quoted, God is my helper, but I also depend on the encouragement and exhortation of my church family.

May we help each other run to Him for cover when we sin, for stability when our lives are disrupted, for hope when our expectations are crushed, for joy when grief is overwhelming. Let’s point each other to God and his character and say with Jehoshaphat in the face of danger and turmoil, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). With God’s help, and the coming-alongside of brothers and sisters in Christ, we can keep our eyes on God.

And if at the end of 2021, we can say we have grown in our grasp of Gospel truths, it will have been a good year.

Carol Hensel

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