by Lt. Colonel Barbara Rich, Assistant Territorial Secretary for Program

Finally. We’ve made it to 2021. We’ve left last year in the rearview mirror. Yet, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as we thought it would. For many of us 2020 seemed like the longest year on record. It was hard to watch the news of the pandemic, economic devastation, political chaos, social upheaval and racial unrest. At times I cried for people I’d never met whose amazing contributions were cut short by death from COVID-19. I mourned for fractured communities, wishing to rush their healing but acknowledging it will take time, a lot of listening and learning.

Amidst this pain and sorrow, our family celebrated the birth of our second granddaughter in May. We welcomed Cooper Leigh from afar with hearts full of gratitude. We celebrated again when our beautiful niece married a young man who shares her faith and life goals just a few weeks before Christmas. Are we different than other generations of believers who went before us? I don’t think so.

Even in the Old Testament we see the children of Israel exiled to Babylon and facing unthinkable pain and longing. Just as a refresher, they weren’t being quarantined in their own homes, sleeping in their own beds and being asked not to gather in large groups. They’d been taken to a foreign land where life must have felt out of their control. They might have been tempted to give up. But through the prophet  Jeremiah what does the Lord Almighty say to them? “Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters, find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage… Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper,” (Jeremiah 29: 5-7, NIV).

During these times of pain, disappointment and confusion, God wants us to keep on living. He wants us to seek Him in prayer and make wise choices but not put our lives on hold. For even during this time when we feel we’re treading water, God is with us and hope in Him can sustain us. Let’s not waste these weeks and months. God is at work. So, let’s wake up, build and plant in new ways. Christ is returning someday, and it may be soon.