Apparently, the Merriam Webster Dictionary had quite the challenge deciding what the Word of the Year would be for 2020. As perhaps could have been expected, the eventual “winner” chosen was the word pandemic. Seemingly, the number of Google searches and popular usage of the word played heavily in the final selection for the year.
Pandemic: An outbreak of disease over a wide geographic area upon a significant portion of the population.
That seems to apply to a number of life’s situations experienced over this past year.
Certainly, the year 2020 will be remembered for leaving a pretty deep impact upon our world. The Covid-19 crisis, however severe it is or isn’t, has left a mark that will long-be remembered. The wild fires and extreme weather will have us reeling for years. The riots in many major cities have left long-lasting economic ripples, and prompted many to seek shelter in more serene, suburban settings. And without a doubt, this election cycle is one which will likely not only choose a political course for the next several years, but could as well set the trajectory for a “new” America.
Though these are not mere distractions, my mind is drawn to wonder just what the man is doing behind the green curtain.
And still, we the people seem to long expectantly for December 31st as though that is the goal line, and if we can just make it there, if we can just make it into 2021 all will be fine; the rainbow is just around the corner. We forget, 2021 may just be a mile marker, rather than a goal line.
Though pandemic is a valid contender for Word of the Year, I would suggest a more appropriate word would be sifted.
As a nation we are being tested. As the Church of Christ, we are being tested. The great sickle is casting a wide swath through the fields in order to harvest those whom it may. The events have helped me to see those who are in the camp, and those who are not. It has clarified those whom I trust, and those who I choose to trust no longer.
In Luke 22:31 Christ issues some pretty heavy information to Peter. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.”
Peter’s character and witness would be scrutinized in the fiery crucible of culture, and Christ is going to allow it.
I am sure most of us would be horrified to discover that the Adversary had requested an opportunity to test us, to attack us, but certainly, this happens on a daily occurrence. Evil submits a request, or a demand for Divine permission to attack. The difficult news is that we are placed in the crucible daily. The better news is that any nefarious plans the devil may have for us needs to be granted permission by the God of all Creation. He allows this for our refinement, that we would emerge the better for it, that we might better exhibit the image of Christ, and that our faith would grow stronger.
In response to the statement of Christ, Peter overstates his fidelity “But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’” (Luke 22:33). And yet, the Lord was interceding on his behalf. Peter would be sifted. He would fail as his authenticity and depth would be challenged. And the Lord still had plans for Peter. “…but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
The imagery of sifting brings to mind the threshing room floor. On an elevated portion of land, the grain and the chaff, having been threshed or separated, would be tossed into the air. The wind would then blow the lighter material, the chaff to the sides and the grain, the true, solid fruit would fall to the ground revealing that which was authentic.
Ultimately, Peter would be proven as genuine, and fulfill Christ’s prayer in obedience.
Satan’s goal in attacking us is to damage our faith; he will undoubtedly go for the low-hanging fruit first. I would suggest that his bushel is overflowing in the context of 2020, as more and more “Christians” are abdicating orthodoxy in favor of the Evangelical left – “progressive” ideology.
My guess for 2021 is that:
People will continue to be sifted.
People will continue to reveal their true colors – politically, and spiritually; it is part of the process.
People will reveal themselves to be unsaved, unwise, or lacking discernment.
People who were shepherds, and who are also wolves will be found out.
A magazine once orthodox will no longer evidence any signs of being “Christian.”
Some churches will no longer be “true churches.”
Pastors will fall away.
And some, the faithful, will be found to be authentic, genuine… real.
May you be found faithful.