I am beginning to read of people referring to 2020 as the ‘lost year’. Some, with a more biblical bent, may refer to as the year the locust has eaten.
Dramatic references which people apply to describe this year. When January began, I don’t think anyone, save those who knew of the developing virus, had any inkling of what 2020 would be like.
We had plans. To renew my driver’s licence in Turkey, we were planning on making a trip to a Greek Island. It would have been a quick break and by going and coming, I would have another six months’ validity on my licence to drive in Turkey.
If you are wondering, I was greatly looking forward to going to Patmos. It is a small, often forgotten island by tourists. An ideal, quiet place to go.
So, yes, we lost that trip. But is this really how 2020 should be recorded? As the ‘lost year’?
For many, this is their desired designation for the year. But as believers and followers of the Christ, is that our appraisal?
It is true that many have died because of COVID-19. Many – thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands have died as a direct result of this ‘novel’ or new virus. The economies of the world have been dealt a staggering blow. Many businesses have collapsed and are no more. Jobs have disappeared, never to return. The old normal disappeared overnight.
Things Have Been Shaken
This year has shaken, not just a country, nor a people, but the whole world. There is nowhere on the face of this globe that has escaped the effects of this pandemic.
The things of life we took for granted – have been taken away. Countless people have lost their livelihoods. And for too many, the changes are irreversible.
But this virus has also exposed what is most important to people. People will say many things, but, as things disappeared, their real priorities came to the fore.
The virus has shown us whether people are willing to limit themselves and their desires to protect others. We see a side of people that is rarely on display.
People begin to demand their ‘rights’ and privileges. There seems to be an attitude that if I ignore the virus, it will go away. There are reports of people, as they lay dying, were proclaiming it could not be happening as there is no virus.
A Very Delicate Balance
Whether we acknowledge it or not, is our lives are held in a very precarious balance. It is not robust. Something as small as an invisible virus can upend the world.
When people say “the Lost year” they are expressing a longing for the old times. Too many people have felt the things we did and enjoyed before the virus are ours by ‘right’. And if ‘by right’, you cannot and must not take them away from me.
We describe it is a “lost year” because we could not do the things we ‘wanted’ or were accustomed to do. We look at what was lost… and focus on that. Hence, the ‘lost’ year.
But life is about far more than our annual holiday or travelling overseas to see exotic places. It is more than our personal traditions and the events we have habitually engaged in. Life does not consist in going where I want to go, or meeting (face to face) those I wish to meet. That may be part of it, but it is not the ‘all’ of it.
One unexpected aspect of the virus was a slowing of pollution. While Elon Musk proposes taking a dead planet like Mars and make it alive, we seem to be bent on taking this living planet and making it dead.
The residents of Venice have seen their canals become clear. When they looked at this rare sight, they found fish in the waters. The levels of air pollutions have dropped worldwide. And many people suffering from asthma and other breathing difficulties have found relief.
There is an old saying: “You don’t know the value of something until it is gone.”
I think we have seen the reality of this saying this year. By missing some family gatherings, we have come to appreciate them more. Too often, in the past, we may have groused and complained about ‘uncle so-and-so’. Or we may have felt it was a ‘burden’ to travel to see relatives at the festive time. Now, we miss it and long for it.
Before the virus, people freely complained about their work environment. Griping and whining was too often our daily lot. Their focus tainted by these negative feelings. But those who lost their jobs long to have them back. Those who have kept their jobs suddenly find themselves grateful.
We can describe mankind as ‘ego-centric’. And so we evaluate the effects of the virus as how it has impacted our lives and our desires.
Frequently you will read of people asking: “When will things return to normal?”
But, I want to ask: “What was so ‘great’ about the pre-virus times – the old normal?”
We remember it as great for us. And yet it was tinged with bickering and complaining. Often, sometimes far too often, we were not happy.
We went on our trips and complained to one another. The hotel was as good as the one last year. The plane was late. They didn’t have the food I like.
It is a standing joke in the western world that we come back from our annual leave needing a break to recover.
Let’s look beyond ourselves for one moment.
Not for everyone had these ‘good’ things. For many, they were the unseen, forgotten, lost individuals. They worked one, two, three jobs, or they could never find work. They scrounged and scrimped and tried to get by… and just survived. When the pandemic shut everything down, they had no safety net. For them, the worst got impossibly worse.
Whilst we were living according to our desires and passions, there was a multitude of the ‘left behind’. They will not look at 2020 as the ‘lost year’ but just a continuation of the sad and hopeless normal.
Pause and consider
Before the virus, how many of us were really, truly thankful for the opportunities and freedoms we had?
I mean, we had a society of those who ‘have’ and are not thankful and the multitude of those who simply ‘do not have’.
The old normal doesn’t look so cheery and rosy to me. It certainly wasn’t very pleasant or good for many, many people.
It was and continues to be deeply unfair and unjust.
The Start of it all.
The virus originated in someone wanting something that was deemed illegal. Wild meat is forbidden. But enough someones wanted it, so there was a trade and a market in forbidden meat. And a virus that infected animals made the jump to humans. It started because of what some people choose to eat, giving the opportunity for something that does not naturally happen.
Some will say, and continue to pray, that this virus will disappear.
Their goal and desire is to ‘return to the old normal’. They want to meet freely, shop freely, travel freely, and holiday freely. Those who cannot do those things before or during or after the virus – they give no thought to. None. It is all about ‘ourselves’ – sadly.
Yes, we may dress it up and make it sound spiritual or holy. But at the end of the day, our motivation is to ‘get life back to normal’ – that is our pleasant normal.
Now, take a brief moment and look at our world from God’s perspective. Remember, He sees everyone – the world over. He knows what you consider ‘normal’, and what the disadvantaged person in your own community considers ‘normal’.
Remember, God is Just.
Remember, God created this world – and knows what we have done to it.
And remember God loves the world – the whole world and not just our part.
Remember, God desires that all come to faith – those living in luxury and those living in poverty.
Look at the world from God’s perspective for a moment. Where does our normal fit into that? Our normal is for, well, us. We enjoy it. We do the things we want to do.
So, when we pray that the virus would be dealt with and life can go back to normal – how is that in any way addressing God’s concerns and desires for the world?
Pause and Consider
Pause and consider God’s perspective, then consider how we will pray.
The Year has been – it cannot be ‘Lost’.
This is not the ‘lost year’. A year is not lost. If you are living, this year is.
The only question is: what are we doing with this day? Life is not about what we have or what we do – but it is about who we are.
In adversity, what we are is laid bare. It is there for all to see. But, more to the point, it is there for us to see. We tell ourselves a lot of ideal things about ourselves. We declare our goodness and humility. But really, what kind of person am I? What do I consider is most important in my life? Under the virus, what do I miss most in life and why?
To my thinking, this is not a ‘lost year’. I believe it is an important, pivotal year for us as individuals. And I think it is pivotal for our countries and for the world.
The Conclusion of the Matter
The question is: “Are we going to long for and labour for a return to the so-called ‘good old days’?” Or are we going to seize this opportunity and use it to see a better world – a more equitable world? Will we take this chance to reach out to those who have been left behind? We will strive to have a cleaner world? Things have been taken away – will we try to build back better? Or will we strive to get back to the ‘good old days’?
For me, this has not been a lost year. Has it for you?
Leave your thoughts and comments below.