The year began with hints of COVID-19, then it quickly changed up a gear, with some states and countries finding themselves in top gear very fast.
Families were removing loved ones from aged care homes and shuffling them around family members until the virus was under control. Many high-risk people, such as myself, effectively stopped work. Others lost their jobs, homes, and businesses. While others again, lost parents and family members or friends to the virus.
But whatever the year threw at us, and it threw a lot at some, our Saviour is the person to whom we turn. He was born for such times as these. Where do we get the strength and counsel to ride through extended storms such as 2020?
Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
This scripture is particularly appropriate for 2020, as we get close to Christmas Day. I think we're all desperate for a break, but the break won't come just yet. Even with COVID, Christmas is still the busiest time of the year. Here in Victoria, our shopping centre car parks are full again, as are the roads and freeways to and from work, while other states are now entering times of tighter COVID controls. Spiritually and mentally, we are worn down, and not only need a break, but we need Jesus more than ever.
Think back to this time last year, 2019. What were you doing?
I was the guest speaker at Men's Support Mission annual break up with about 80-90 men, woman and children present? I am the secretary, but the leadership team thought it good to share the difficulties I went through, which were quite a few. Yet, as I was out in front of the crowd walking and talking about my trauma's, my eyes were glancing across to others who had gone through more woes than me with deeper pain and greater anxiety. I thought "They should be out here, not me!"
As I looked, I realised the common ground for all of us was not our illnesses, it was Jesus. Our Lord and Saviour saw us through. He was born for such times as we went through then.
Have you ever thought where you would be today if not for Jesus? Spend a minute on that question. I know I would be dead. My former lifestyle did not afford a long life. How about you? Do you realise what a privilege it is to belong to Jesus Christ? It's not a right, it's a privilege.
Now think about the words in our scripture. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:"
The child came for us, for the lost, for the wounded, for those in despair whose hearts are torn. He came to show us a way of wonders, of ultimate counsel, of spiritual authority in this world, of mighty worship, and of course to introduce us to everlasting fatherhood.
Two special titles stood out to me in this verse this year. The first one was Counsellor. There are some excellent counsellors around, but the counsel in the Bible is best. It is accurate, it will guide us, hold us from doing or saying the wrong things, keep us from anxiety, and heal us from the tears we shed. Yet it works only when we put it into action. Otherwise, it's just a few more words of wisdom we disregard. The Lord's counsel to me is useless....unless I use it.
The second was the thought of an Everlasting Father. As I pondered over this title, my mind went back to when my own father died when I was 17. I'm now 65, the age when he died. Many times over the years I wished he were around through my life to share his wisdom and just chat to me. Father’s don’t last forever. When he died, I was gutted. The only thing everlasting about my dad is his memory. But my heavenly father is everlasting. Hebrews 13:5 says He will never leave us or forsake us. He is everlasting, and I get encouraged by that.
Christmas 2020 will stand out. Let it stand out more as you look at Jesus the Saviour, a complete person. Let yourself and your loved ones enjoy the wonders of God's special son that was born for us. Partake in his counsel and let it change your life. Let his mighty works come in and rejuvenate your spirit. Thank Him for his everlasting fatherhood, which is so often undervalued.
This Christmas, let us all live in and enjoy the peace that only Jesus brings.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for Jesus, and all the wonderful things he brought at his birth. Help me recognise the value of those titles and what they can mean to me if I listen and act upon the counsel.
Photo by Glen Carrie