By Pastor Stuart Weist
First Baptist Church of Preston
As we look toward 2021, many regard 2020 as the worst year ever. Pandemics, wild fires, economic collapse, closing of schools, and the disruption of daily routines definitely place 2020 in the category of “not what I expected.” However it should place it in the category of “just what I needed.” As a pastor, I have prayed with many who asked for God’s leading or their family to be drawn toward God. Some ask for a clear direction for careers, more time with kids, etc. Well, 2020 was God’s answer to your prayers.
In what seemed like an incredible turn of events, God used world leaders to give you exactly what you asked for. Time! Time to reflect on the things that truly matter. Time to contemplate life and death. Time to be with family and train up your children in the ways of the Lord. God gave direction in businesses, drawing communities together while we supported one another through some very difficult economic times. I could go on, but you get the point. When we state that 2020 was a bad year because it did not go as we expected, then what we are really saying is that God is not good because He created a “bad” year. Suddenly, we see that it is not God that we are after but rather our own sovereignty.
I can think of another year that could be labeled “not what I expected” and yet turned out to be for the betterment of all mankind. That is the birth of Christ. In Luke 1 we encounter a young woman named Mary, betrothed to Joseph. He was off preparing a home for them while she was making preparations to have a life with her helpmate. Suddenly, Mary is informed that she will have a child but not of Joseph. That Child would be the Promised Messiah. Mary is shamed for being pregnant out of wedlock. She is forced to hide her pregnancy for a time, her husband to be is considering divorce, and she is sent away to be with her relative Elizabeth. This was not what she expected, yet it was exactly what God had planned. Through God’s divine intervention He revealed not only His Sovereignty, but how He would redeem mankind from their sins. Yet this redemption did not come in the form and format that man expected so they rejected Him.
So as we look forward into 2021 with expectations of a “better year,” take a moment and consider how you responded to the previous year. Did you see God’s sovereign hand at work? Did you use the time you were given to draw yourself and your family closer to God? Or were you too busy reading the latest news or binge-watching the latest show to notice what God was doing? If this were the 1st century instead of the 21st century would you have rejected the Savior because He was “not what I expected”?