“Is it January yet?” was Jake’s daily refrain the past few days.
Jake seems to believe that a new calendar year has the power to take away the woes and worries of the previous one.
As if ‘poof!’, every ailment, every difficulty, every conflict, every matter of concern evaporates at the stroke of midnight.
I’m not sure where or when Jake embraced this wishful thinking. This line of reasoning did not come from John and me. It could be that Jake is ready for our year of basement living due to our pandemic-affected life to be over.
I can’t blame him.
We have lived the entire year of 2020 out of a set of suitcases – same clothes, same shoes, same stuff, same struggles.
And yet, January is here.
We are still here.
And the pandemic is still raging across the globe. In South Africa, where our home is, COVID cases are skyrocketing. We are not returning there anytime soon.
I am sure that Jake feels a little like Charlie of the MTA. Who is Charlie? In 1959, the Kingston Trio began singing a crazy song about a fictional man named Charlie. Trapped aboard a subway train in Boston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Charlie could not disembark because he did not have enough money for the exit fare.
“Poor old Charlie,” the Kingston Trio sang. The lyrics continue….
Did he ever return?
No, he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.
Jake feels like Charlie.
The same needs, challenges, ailments, difficulties, concerns, and worries remain for him – as the clock ticks from one year to the next.
Maybe you feel the same?
We are all riding the same subway train – maybe in a different car with different fears, worries, and cares – but we are all underground – besieged and affected by a worldwide virus in one way or another. No one has been spared of its impact.
And the thing is, just like Charlie of the MTA, we will never emerge and return to the life that we had known before the pandemic hit.
We are changed.
I am not going to say how we are different at this point. Everyone will have their own unique tale and song to sing one day. The question for Jake, for you, and for me, is
What song will we sing and what story will we share about this time?
Jake is becoming impatient. He thinks we should be ‘ALL DONE’ with the present life we are living. In his mind, viruses come and go within a couple of weeks.
According to Jake, the COVID virus is waaaaaaaay past its expiration date. Jake’s thoughts echo these words of David:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
New International Version, Psalm 13
I appreciate David’s desperate cry for God’s intervention and care. Yet, he chose to acknowledge his trust in his Lord amid his struggles. He prayed for the time when the out-of-sight, yet unrealized redemption and help of his God would come – someday. David understood at some level that the Lord was with him in his hardship – instructing him, strengthening him, ministering to him, and yes, even, testing him. And in this place and from this place, David could trust that the Lord would lead him – in and out of it all.
Our God – the God of David – will do the same for Jake, for you, and for me one day. Maybe not on January 1st with the flip of the calendar year as Jake and you and I would like. But, one day.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
New International Version, 1 Peter 5:10
He assures us:
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love….
New International Version, Psalm 33:18
He calms us:
You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.
New International Version, Job 11: 18-19
Yes, Dear Friends, it is a new year. We may not be free of our 2020 cares and concerns as we would desire. Jake feels this way. Maybe you do, too. Yet, God is near. And although we are still riding round and round and round underneath the pandemic’s impact, God is with us.
May we live this day and this New Year in honor of our Lord, loving Him with all our might and loving others with kindness and deep respect. Our hope is in Him. Amen.