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The 2020 Paradox

Posted by Amy Pryor on Dec 30, 2020 9:49:00 AM

the paradox of 2020

On the anniversary of her 40th year on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II gave a speech to Parliament. It was to be a year of celebration. No ruling British monarch had achieved a 40-year reign since Queen Victoria in the 1800s. England’s economy was doing well, inflation was at a record low, and there was growing optimism among its citizens. Yet the Queen’s speech took a decidedly different tone. A fire that year had destroyed a large part of Windsor Castle and multiple royal marriages ended amidst embarrassing public scandal and scrutiny. I remember seeing segments of the Queen’s speech on the news and I can still hear her perfectly-polished, restrained accent saying, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” She even called it an annus horriblis, the Latin term for horrible year.

I think 2020 has us all right there with Queen Elizabeth. To say it has brought challenging circumstances into our lives is an understatement. But, as the year is nearing its end, I have been thinking about how I would like to look back on it. And, the term paradox keeps coming to mind.

To put on my English teacher hat for a minute, a paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement. Shakespeare’s Hamlet says, “I must be cruel to be kind” and the witches in Macbeth prophesy of “when the battle is won and lost.” Probably the most famous literary paradox comes from Charles Dickens. The opening line of A Tale of Two Cities states, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” But how can something be two opposing things at once?

When I am weak, then I am strong.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul exhorts us to boast of our weaknesses and to accept it when we face hardships and calamities. In Romans 5, he tells us to delight in our sufferings and in Philippians 4, he shares the secret of being content no matter what we face.

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

God gives us strength

2020 has found me in the weakest moments of my life and I have come to understand just how strong my God is. Each time I thought I could not face one more trial or disappointment, His loving kindness and unending mercy was extended to me. When I felt alone in my struggles, He was faithful to comfort me. When I was at my weakest, He never failed to give me His perfect strength. So, when I look back on 2020, I am going to remember the beautiful paradox, the miraculous contradiction, the annus mirabilis, or wonderful year God has given me.

In January, I experienced a life-threatening medical emergency. No one thought I was going to make it and the doctors repeatedly said there was nothing they could do…Annus Horriblis.

God by His power and might miraculously saved my life and continues to restore me to health…Annus Mirabilis.

My family had to stand by my hospital bed each day not knowing if I would ever wake up…Annus Horriblis.

My husband and children learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control and a very present help in trouble…Annus Mirabilis.

I was in the hospital for weeks and unable to take care of all the details of my kids’ lives as mothers do…Annus Horriblis.

My children now understand the importance of being connected to the body of Christ as they saw the CCA community and our church overwhelm us with their constant love, prayers, and acts of service, laying down their lives for us…Annus Mirabilis.

Many times, I was afraid of what tomorrow would bring…Annus Horriblis.

The peace that passes all understanding are not just words that I have read, they are the truth that I know…Annus Mirabilis.

the best and worst of times

So, as you look back on the year that was 2020, I encourage you to delight in the paradox and glory in the contradiction. It has been both a terrible year and a wonderful year.

Experiencing weakness on such a grand scale has revealed the immeasurable power of our God.

He has been with us, teaching and refining us every step of the way and His strength has sustained us through it all.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”     2 Corinthians 12:9

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Topics: Faith