2020: The new four-letter word

Is it fair to consider 2020 a four-letter word?

I am fully aware it is actually four numbers that when fully spelled out has 12 letters. It feels appropriate to classify 2020 with the other “bad words” of the English language.

If we’re being honest, it sure feels like a bad word. You sort of have to gag it out of your mouth, and once you do, you feel a little dirty for having said it. Rather than washing your mouth out with soap, however, we have to wash our hands because we’re not supposed to be touching our faces.

Think of some of the terms we use to define four-letter words. Obscenity is defined as “an extremely offensive word or expression.” This has been a year full of being offended and not really caring if we’re being offensive.

Curse is defined as “a cause of harm or misery” and “an offensive word or phrase used to express anger or annoyance.” Again, 2020 has been a year that has brought more than its fair share of harm and misery causing no small amount of anger and annoyance.

The term four-letter word itself covers “terms relating to hell or damnation.” Throughout 2020, we have lived in the valley of the shadow. Whether or not we recognize 2020 as a curse word, we are certainly tempted to view it as a cursed year.

Make no mistake, 2020 has been and continues to be a very trying year. It is tempting to get caught up counting the curses, which has been somewhat of a trend in recent years.

As we make our way through November, we begin reminiscing about all of the loss and sadness of the previous months. We look forward to the new year, as if turning the page of a calendar is going to suddenly end the insanity. Spoiler alert: It won’t. It never does.

Jesus himself warned us in John 16:33: “In this world, you will have trouble.” As long as we walk this side of the sod, trouble and hardships will always be part of the equation. But even in a cascade of curses, blessings abound.

We need to reframe our focus. Rather than zooming in on the issues that have plagued us, we need to look for the blessings that have carried us through. We need to heed the encouragement of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. He writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”

There are always, continually, in all circumstances causes for hope so long as we orient our attitude and outlook in such a way they aren’t obscured from our view.

Thanksgiving is only days away. And while it is sure to be a holiday season unlike any other, I believe it is an incredibly timely reminder of the providence and grace of God in our lives.

I don’t know what that means for you. For me personally, I’m thankful for a church that has selflessly and faithfully given to meet the needs of others and to share the hope of the Gospel regardless of the situation.

I’m thankful for other churches, pastors and community partners who have also gone above and beyond in great and small ways. I’m thankful for the many doctors and nurses who have worked so persistently and sacrificially to care for our community.

I’m thankful for teachers, administrators and other educational professionals who have creatively and compassionately cared for the social and developmental needs of our children.

Perhaps, rather than seeing 2020 as a four-letter word that reminds us of the curses that plague us, it can become a beacon of hope that provides us with strength to overcome. It can be for us a reminder of the strength and resolve that lies within each of us and of the compassion and grace that it inspired.

More than anything, may it be a clarion call to consider the providential care of a God who loves us and refuses to leave us hanging. Consider the blessings that have brought you through 2020 and be thankful.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].