The sun is beginning to set on 2020. We enter into autumn exhausted, wary, & overwhelmed. Fall used to be a time of new beginnings, anticipation of upcoming celebrations, new friends, reuniting with families over holiday dinners—my biggest ire of the season was the fact that I seem to be in the minority when it comes to the idea of combining pumpkin and coffee (gross)!
Instead, we’re faced with a never-ending pandemic, horrifying wildfires, destructive hurricanes, devastating unemployment, distance learning and endless debates about politics, public safety, and justice. Everywhere we turn, there is more bad news. We used to be able to laugh at it to hide the pain (“Apocalypse Bingo” memes were my favorite), but then other coping mechanisms began to surface: reports showed a dramatic increase in alcohol sales; suicidal ideation went up due to isolation at the same that anxiety, depression and grief became overwhelming…even pastors began to leave the ministry—or seriously consider it—because it has become too much to handle.
This has been a hard year for us all.
Like much of the world, my life hasn't been the same since March when we entered the stay-at-home order. Originally only expecting to be inside for 10 days, I never thought we'd remain in a season of "what if" 186 days later. I still spend much of my time inside the walls of my home, trying to do work, school and play in creative socially-distant ways. Pre-pandemic, when things would get tough, it wasn't difficult to escape to a movie with a friend or pack up my mobile office to spend the afternoon in a coffee shop for some undistracted work time. Now for a change of scenery, I'm limited to the couch, the kitchen table, or my bedroom. Escaping with a friend might look like a Zoom call in the home office or wearing face masks while 6 feet apart on a short hike. I miss hugs, sharing chips & salsa, and lingering at the table long after the check comes.
But as I looked out my window the other day, through the screen and beyond the palm trees I saw an orange sky framing a beautiful fireball. Sunsets like this only happen because of destruction from smoke and fire, yet somehow there is still beauty to be found in this moment. Another day was coming to an end, but with it a promise: tomorrow is coming and with it a clean slate, a fresh start.
This isn't the first time our world has experienced difficult times. Over the centuries, our loved ones suffered through famines, world wars, plagues, dust bowls and floods. Each day, the sun would set in the evening and rise again in the morning. It continues to do so today, and will continue for generations to come (God willing).
We can choose to be discouraged and full of despair because 2020 is almost over, and we seemingly have nothing to show for it except chaos and disorder; or we can view this as a promise that 2020 is almost over, and a new beginning is just around the corner.
I think today—for the sake of my own well-being and for the sake of the next generation that follows—today I’ll focus on the promise: following every sunset is a sunrise.
“Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”