December 28, 2020
By Fadi and Jillian Kamel
2020 is winding to a close and for most of us it feels like “Thank goodness this year is over!” Let’s face it, this year has been tough on so many levels. But we believe that in God’s hands, no suffering or hardship is wasted. So as a couple, Fadi and I wanted to sit, reflect, and write about 2020 from each of our perspectives.
Where did we see God most in 2020?
Jillian: In my grief. This year was filled with lows I couldn’t get out of by myself. A first-time mom, I felt isolated, fearful and so much more. Over and over my heart broke for the reality of my son’s first year of life, the state of our world, and the treatment of others. As soon as I would start to bring my head above the water, I was delivered another blow. I saw God, not above the water saying, “swim harder, get to Me it will be better,” but with me beneath the waves saying, “I’m here, it’s okay, you can still breathe.”
Fadi: In the helpers. We were isolated and hurting but saw that there were people trying to do better; to be the light. We couldn’t give in to our grief fully at the same time. It was just us, so one of us had to keep moving, and somehow God gave me the strength to be Jillian’s helper when she needed it. God gave me the strength to step up and be a father in ways I didn’t even know I had in me. God gave me the armor to weather the storm for both of us.
How can one still have hope after the hardships of this year?
Fadi: How could you not have hope after 2020? We will come out of this stronger than ever and why would that not produce even more hope? As followers of Christ, we were designed to shine more in adversity than we do in prosperity. It’s the nature of what we believe. “The things we hoped in will not be the same, but the person we hoped in will.” (Ken Costa). This year showed us how fragile our worldly hopes are and how we place our hopes in the wrong things. But when our hope is firmly rooted in the character, death, and resurrection of Christ, nothing can take that from us. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Jillian: The only way I know how to answer this question is Christ. And I say that understanding how hard it could be right now for someone to have hope if they don’t know Christ. Without the light of Jesus and the promise of the cross, I don’t think I could have hope either. If you find yourself reading this, without hope, or in a dark place please don’t stop at reading this blog. Please know—truly know—you are needed. You are meant to read this right now and this world needs you. Do not allow hopelessness to swallow you up. Stop reading this, pick up the phone, and call someone. Call a church. Call a faith-filled friend. Be honest, and through the company of His people and His Word allow hope to access your heart once more.
What God taught us about loving our neighbor in 2020.
Fadi: I must listen. Jesus, again and again, showed us how to walk into such situations. In one instance, before He raised Lazarus from the dead, He wept. Our job as Christians is to follow His example, so for our black communities right now, or even our political opponents, our response should be one of empathy. We must try to understand where one another is coming from. We cannot skip that step. We may not see the supernatural power of God until we can come together in such a place and weep.
Jillian: God showed me that truly loving our neighbors is really stinking hard. That human love is so limited and even when we think we are doing it well, we aren’t. We always miss the mark somewhere even when we have the very best of intentions. This year has exposed that in my life. It has been a year of unwrapping thoughts and default ways of thinking that I thought were good and innocent. I look back at this year and realize that to “love thy neighbor” we really need God’s help, wisdom, and strength. Loving our neighbors means we are willing to give up our own ideas, comforts, and safety for others. Godly love will always call us to action, to fight for the oppressed as if they are our own children. Isn’t that why Christ fought so hard for us? So hard that He willingly gave his life for those he calls God’s children?
Where have you see God working this past year? Have you found ways to have hope even in the hardships? Have you found new ways to show love to your neighbor or have you been the recipient of love at a difficult point in the year? We would love to hear your stories of God working in your lives this year!