Just last month, I was commenting on how quickly this year is coming to a close. It feels like I blinked my eyes, and all of a sudden we are now in December, well and truly approaching the end of 2020. I’m sure that 2021 will be upon us in a flash at this rate.
For me in some ways, 2020 has gone by very quickly, and in other ways, it seems to have been moving at a snail’s pace. I realise that this year has been full of much uncertainty and difficulty for pretty much everyone, and for some much more than for others. Accordingly, I know that some of you may understandably be thinking, “I can’t wait to see the end of 2020.” We can try and look forward to 2021 and not just as a new year, but perhaps one that will bring us some hope for change from what we’ve experienced in 2020.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a bit about Habakkuk, one of my favourite prophets in the Old Testament. Very recently, I had the privilege of preaching on the very well-known segment of this book, which we find in Habakkuk 3:17-19. Throughout this short book, the prophet Habakkuk deals very honestly with the real problems that surround him and his people at that time. He cries out to God boldly for answers. The culmination of that process we find in chapter 3:17-19. Just as with Habakkuk in his day, we face real issues with real loss, and we do not rejoice in these problems and difficulties. We rejoice in the Lord right in the midst of these sufferings – the Lord, (1) whose sovereignty never moves (verse 17-18a), (2) whose salvation never ends (v. 18b), and (3) whose power never fails (verse 19).
I feel that at this time of year, it is especially important that we remember this lesson. This is the time of year, when we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus to this earth in the form of a little baby. It is ordinarily a time of joy and celebration, which we extend to our family and friends through the giving of gifts and close fellowship. There is no doubt that this Christmas season will be different for the vast majority of us, and for many of us nearly unrecognisable compared to past Christmases. After the events of this year, we may feel a great deal like “the people who walked in darkness” and “those who dwelt in the land of the valley of death.” BUT let us remember that verse in its entirety: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” – Isaiah 9:2. That Light, our Lord Jesus, still shines, and pierces the darkness, as hard as that darkness might try to extinguish it.
As we look forward to this season, in spite of the difficulties, I want to thank you all for walking with us in prayer, support and direct involvement this year. We are very thankful to the Lord for each and every one of you, who has felt God’s leading to pray and support our missionary calling to make the Gospel understandable and available to speakers of indigenous minority languages across Europe.