God’s peace is accessible to us, even when it doesn’t make sense. Last year, my world was turned upside down, but God used it to remind me of something so important.
Let’s face it, we all lived through the collective woes of 2020. It was a brutal year: A scary virus with a high level of contagion. A global shutdown with uncertain economic implications. More heartbreaking acts of racial injustice. And political unrest with extreme division.
For me, not only did it feel like the world was burning down everywhere I looked, but I also faced enormous hardship on a personal front.
I was pregnant with my first child, battling morning sickness all day, every day for the first 16 weeks. Being so sick for so long took a toll on me mentally and emotionally, combined with the isolation of being cut off socially from loved ones thanks to quarantine. Then a wildfire burned down my family’s house after nearly 15 years of memories there. I also lost two grandparents, one to Alzheimer’s and the other to the coronavirus.
In my second trimester of pregnancy, my husband and I both contracted COVID-19. I was the sickest I’d ever been for 16 days. I worried about my baby, my husband, and my own well-being. I wondered if we would be okay. Weeks later, I developed an unrelated condition called cholestasis that can be fatal to an unborn child if not handled quickly and appropriately. Because of this, my labor was induced almost a month early. Moments after birth, my daughter, McKenzie, began struggling to breathe and landed in the NICU on assisted oxygen for five days.
One week postpartum, my dog of 12 years passed away. Four weeks after that, I had to have my gallbladder removed while still recovering from childbirth and adjusting to life with a newborn.
WHEW. Are you tired just from reading that? What a year.
I tell you these things not to complain but to illustrate something. On paper, this should have been the absolute worst year of my life. It was filled with so much pain and so much physical and emotional discomfort. Fear. Tension. Loss. The unknown. I battled health issues, I watched my family suffer, and I became acquainted with fear more than ever before.
That’s why what I experienced at the end of 2020 didn’t make sense. Instead of tense, I felt calm. Instead of exhausted, I felt renewed. I felt a divine quietness in my soul. I felt a sense of assurance that everything was going to be okay.
I felt God’s peace.
I could have focused on all that was lost in 2020. I certainly could have dwelled on the injustices, the sorrow in the world, all that I’d gone through, and how hard it had been. But God redirected my attention. He called me, instead, to look at the abundant blessings all around me.
God got my attention with a peace that made zero sense, then opened my eyes to a different version of the very same year that was just as true.
An alternative look at my 2020:
- My marriage got richer. My husband, Jake, and I celebrated three years of marriage in October. We reminisced about how much our relationship had deepened because of the months in quarantine. We were thankful for the time we spent together in our final moments as a family of two.
- Our prayer of having a child was answered. We’d been trying to conceive for nearly a year and were beginning to reach a point of sorrow, confusion, and concern. We found out we were expecting in March, and it turned out that God knew the joy of this baby would carry us through the pain of 2020. He knew my mom would need the announcement shortly after losing the house and all of her possessions. God planned it so that when Jake lost his grandma, his grieving dad could smile at a video of our newborn. God knew this baby would be part of the healing stories of so many, including me. His timing is unfailing.
- My job became even more fulfilling. I get to work on the Life.Church Online Team, providing 90 church services digitally every single week for people around the world. Life.Church has been doing this for more than a decade, so when the pandemic hit, we were ready. Our church transitioned to gathering entirely online, and my team had the insane privilege of getting to serve our global Life.Church family in this way. I got to hear stories about how lives were being changed for good despite the pandemic, and in some ways because of it—about how people were coming to Life.Church Online because they were at home, scared and without hope. I got to see God’s glory shine every day.
- My friendships got closer. When you’re in a pandemic, intentionality in relationships has to increase exponentially. When you’re stuck at home, you don’t just accidentally talk to one another. You have to try. Because my LifeGroup couldn’t meet in person as we’d traditionally done, we began to call and text more often. We celebrated one year of being in a LifeGroup together during the pandemic, and I couldn’t help but realize that I was surrounded by lifelong friendships. If we can make it through a worldwide shutdown, we can make it through anything.
- And, finally, I grew in my relationship with God. When you subtract all the distractions on this side of eternity, what you realize is that very little actually matters. Your faith, your family, and the way you love other people—that’s what counts.
The truth is that God said we would experience suffering here. John 16:33 says that in this world, we will have trouble. It’s just part of our brokenness and sinful nature. But we don’t have to choose to let it consume us. In the good times and in the bad times, we can align ourselves with Him and trust that it will all work out for His glory.
When I felt God’s peace at the end of a really hard year, I knew for sure: His timing is always perfect. 2020 was the worst year of my life, but it was also the best. And He wants you to live out His redeeming peace. When we belong to God, when we take hold of our thoughts, and when we focus on faith, we realize that the difficulties will fade, but the blessings abound. God’s grace, God’s love, and God’s peace are within reach, and He wants you to experience them.
Maybe you have a story of God’s redeeming peace in your life, too. If so, we want to hear about it! Share your story with us. And maybe you’re still in the middle of your own story. That’s okay. You are not alone. 2020 was hard, and we believe in the power of prayer. Submit your prayer requests, and we’ll pray with you for healing and peace.