2020. Rolls nicely off the tongue when you say it doesn’t it? But as we hurtle towards the final days of the year, I think it’s safe to say that this year has left a bitter taste in the mouths of individuals and nations.
Many of us started 2020 with dream jobs but are ending the year hanging on to makeshift jobs we managed to cobble together in the wake of Hurricane Covid-19.
Many started 2020 with a complete set of parents but now have to leave one or both behind in the dirt of 2020.
We started out with diaries full of activity as we got going on our eternal hustle and grind to become somebody and go somewhere. We were doing everything right.
Slowly but surely, we were relegated to helpless bystanders as all our events/holidays/conferences became cancelled and organisers grudgingly gave us our refunds (if you’re lucky). Like something out of an apocalyptic movie, life went into slow motion and eventually came to a screeching and jarring halt.
As I thought about what my final post for 2020 should be, Naomi’s angst-ridden words kept ringing in the crowded halls of my head. Naomi’s story can be found in the Bible, in the book of Ruth. The book opens with the detail that Naomi’s husband had relocated Naomi and their two sons to Moab, in search of greener pastures. Unfortunately, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died in Moab, leaving Naomi with her two daughter-in-laws (Ruth and Orpah).
With a heavy heart, Naomi decides to make the dreaded trip back home to Israel in a last minute attempt to make something of the fractured pieces of her life. Better to be broke and miserable amongst your own people right? One daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists on taking the journey with Naomi even though there was clearly nothing in it for her.
As Naomi arrived at the familiar but painful shores of home, her old friends who knew the family before they became economic migrants came out to greet her. In response to their greetings, Naomi, whose name means ‘sweet’ uttered this pain-soaked statement: “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty” (Ruth 1:21).
When I read this statement, the picture it conjured up was one of a bag/sack (representing Naomi’s life) that had been ransacked, turned inside out and shaken vigorously until all the contents had fallen out, leaving it empty and void of meaning. She had lost everything that gave her life definition and a sense of identity. She could no longer call herself a mother or a wife.
If you know anything of how Naomi’s story ends, you’ll know that her emptiness was soon replaced with joy unspeakable. You’ll know that she wasn’t fully empty as she thought. She had one more ace under her sleeves – Ruth. Ruth would eventually be the game changer that turned Naomi’s bitter experience into a story of hope and restoration.
So, here’s my final encouragement to you this year – I know you’ve lost a lot BUT you’ve got one more ace up your sleeve, you just don’t know it. You’ve still got Ruth. You’re still alive. You’ve still got a job (however patchy it is). You’ve still got sound mind. You’ve still got friends that care. You’ve still got that talent/gift. You still have hope.
I ask that you join me in giving the devil one last black eye before the lights go out on 2020.
Say out loud with me: devil, you tried it but it’s NOT over! Yes, you landed a couple of punches, but I’m NOT out of the game.
Don’t worry about the long distance it may seem like you have to cover to recover all you lost. God doesn’t need a crowd to turn your tide; He only needs a Ruth.
I pray that God fills every emptiness you may feel with blessings that will blow your mind. I pray that God restores beauty for ashes and gives you a double for all your trouble in the year to come.
Have a wonderful 2021!
See you on the other side,