Guest commentary by Liz Rasley
Not sure about you, but I cannot wait for the fireworks this year.
After all we’ve been through (murder hornets, mysterious monoliths and oh, a world-wide pandemic) I think mandatory fireworks across the entire nation is not too much to ask to ring in 2021. But that’s only my small, humble opinion.
If fireworks don’t happen in my tiny town, okay. I’m prepared with a Roman candle of my own to light it all up. While visions of all-day movie marathons and other distractions may be dancing through my children’s heads, my own version of delight is saying goodbye to a year that’s been more bitter than sweet, more heartachy than heartwarming. A Roman candle (the firework kind, that is) — well, that sort of energy resonates with my mostly disappointed mood for 2020. Like you, I had so many grand plans and expectations for it.
Now, if I really let myself, I could dive into the deep end of disappointment and despair, feeling very vindicated and self-righteous about all the things this year. And honestly? I could live there – or at least camp out there for a while – in the letdown and bitterness. And honestly? There may have been some days in 2020 where I did just that (more times, of course, than I care to admit).
But on better days, I’m reminded of my call as a Christian. Lately, my mind wanders to Job. Job feels like an old friend who knows intimately about how some years bring dark disappointment.
Job certainly had days of heartache. And like us, he went through his own version of 2020. And while we often think of Jesus as a man well acquainted with sorrows, Job is high on that list too. The setbacks Job experienced, in a nutshell: a loss of friends, a loss of status in the community and loss of family. And then, he had to deal with boils and the status of being a leper. I’m not sure if I could deal with just two of those things, much less all of them. It really gives my toilet paper shortage worries and whining about not hanging with friends a good gut check for sure. And it gives my own lamenting about smaller things a good wringing — as it is a wonder how Job didn’t leave life bitter after those experiences. In fact, he ended praising God.
This year. Whew. There aren’t the right (or perhaps, enough) words.
But we can still end it on a high note, and yes, still have a choice on how we end it. And we can end it thanking God.
As this year has proved to us, we can’t control much of anything in life. But we can choose how we respond. And we can choose to be thankful. I say that, of course, as a reminder to myself too, tucking away that Roman candle for another time. We can still praise God, even despite a year that was peppered with hardship. But Job’s story is a grand reassurance, that all will (eventually) be well with us and our souls.
There may be no fireworks this year, and in keeping with the surprises of 2020, it’s anyone’s guess on how it will end. (Dare we ask?)
But, what we know for sure is our call. And our God. And we can still believe in the goodness of God despite all the things, including 2020.
And somedays, just somedays, that is enough.
LIZ RASLEY is an elder and occasionally leads children’s moments at her church in Richardson, Texas. Her latest book is “Levity: Humor and Help for Hard Times.”