No, this isn’t the start of a teenage-style comment – there’s no comma between “is” and “like”; and that’s really important. Take the example of describing a panda bear – without commas you learn that a panda eats shoots and leaves. With the comma you suspect that pandas are homicidal diners – eats, shoots, and leaves. So if not a teenage style comment, what?
Cue Mr Forrest Gump. “My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” There is an awful lot of truth in those few words. For 2020 it feels like there are only horrible tasting chocolates in the box – Covid itself, and all the things it has interfered with – weddings, funerals, birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, hospital appointments, social life and of course Church – and as a result we see posts on Facebook and the like demanding a refund on the year or saying this year doesn’t count; plus of course all those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, or a job, or even a home, things which are obviously very serious indeed.
Yet in the midst of all the trials and tribulations I believe there have also been some “good chocolates” in this year’s box, too – we have discovered just how important real relationships with others are; we have learnt new ways to work, rest and play; we have become much more aware of “the great outdoors”; many people have had a chance to press pause on very busy lives and take some much needed deep breaths; and as believers we have seen that God really isn’t restricted to a building, and that He’s still as much at work today as He was BC – that’s Before Covid.
Two things in particular I want to focus on – firstly, nothing that has happened this year has surprised God – our Heavenly Father is outside of time and knows the end from the beginning, and we can be confident in that fact and trust that He will bring this season to an end at exactly the right time – Isaiah 46 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.” (v10). On a more personal note, in Psalm 139 we read that, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (v16). When you find another nasty chocolate, remember that God has not abandoned or forsaken you.
And secondly, remember to celebrate the good chocolates when you find them – “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1v17). Don’t forget to celebrate all that is good in your life, otherwise the bad will crush your spirit and distort your vision of life, of God, of everything.
I’ve also found that if there is a chocolate I don’t like, someone else will – our “yuck” can become someone else’s “yummy” – we can still be a blessing to others. With God nothing is wasted, nothing is worthless or pointless. And for that we can give thanks, and keep putting our hands into that box of chocolates.