So, 2020 is upon us. The first fifth of the twenty-first century is past (which hardly seems possible).
Markers like that can helpfully prompt one to look back.
If we look globally, all sorts of things have happened: It barely seems credible now, but as the twentieth century dawned, people spoke of “the end of history”, the idea that western liberal democracy would be without serious rivals. Since then we have had 9/11 and the threat of Islamist extremist terrorism, renewed Russian authoritarianism, Chinese repression of dissent, and so on.
And yet those challenges do not tell the whole story. Largely unreported (because positive change over time makes for less exciting headlines) are things like the fact that the proportion of the world living in extreme poverty has fallen by more than two thirds (according to the World Bank). Or compare the ongoing change in technology, for example the ease with which I can casually be in touch with people I met in Tanzania, in ways which would have been barely possible at the start of the century.
That pattern seen in the global sphere is also true in our individual lives: What have been the quiet and unnoticed blessings and changes for the good that have happened, the ones for which it would be too easy to forget to give thanks, and yet the ones without which we would not want to imagine life?
The Bible tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) When did you last pause to say to Him, “thank You”?
Or, perhaps it is easier to identify the massive and unlooked for disruptions that have made life harder and more painful than you imagined?
The Bible speaks us there too, encouraging us to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:17)
No false promises of endless ease if we will trust in Him (Jesus, in fact, tells us the opposite is the case); nor facile exhortations to not worry (as we could simply switch off an emotion like that – or even should); no the Bible gives us the solid ground to rely on: “He cares for you”.
One other change that has taken place: there are now more people alive today than at any point in history whose lives have been transformed by knowing that God cares for them, so much that He sent His Son Jesus for them. How would your life change if you were one of them?