Good Work And Uncertain Outcomes

Let’s get the obvious and at this point redundant out of the way: 2020 has been a mess. Yes, people say that every year but looking back I think that history will show that 2020 has the evidence to submit a claim for one that was especially tough. I won’t bore you with the details of my life other than to share that I am feeling it and feeling it in ways that I never expected. If you are reading this, I suspect 2020 has presented you with challenges too numerous to name (though I would suspect they include stress coming at home, at work, in your bank account, with family, and more.)

So then, we are faced with a choice regarding how we are going to handle the challenges that continue to be in front of us. I don’t have a one-size fits all cure for what ails ya. I don’t propose that I have the magic words that will make all of our stress go away. But, I do have something that I would like to offer as a word of hope.

In 2020 I have read more books than at any other time in my life. I have especially found refuge in reading the novels of Wendell Berry and in his 1986 book “The Wild Birds” I was especially drawn to a passage from the perspective of Wheeler Catlett where he describes a time working with his father Marce out on the farm at the end of a summer filled with drought:

Looking at his father, Wheeler knew, and would not forget, that though they were surrounded by the marks and leavings of a bad year, they were surrounded also by the marks and leavings of good work, which for that year and any other proposed an end and a new beginning.”

There are so many things that we cannot control in 2020 and we will not be able to control in 2021, 2022, 2023 or beyond. I suspect that there are some good, necessary blessings coming out of this rough season we are facing and someday we will see things a bit clearer.

But until then? We do the best work we can right now. Temporary bad outcomes do not mean that good work is not happening. As long as we can continue to work faithfully in our current situation, we can trust that the good results will come at just the right time.

Part of the good work means knowing what the best places to spend energy will be. Too often when things get out of control we start trying anything and everything and we waste precious resources on things that matter. We get caught up in endless arguments that change nothing, we wear out our minds and it feels like all we want to do is give up.

As I write this, 114 days remain until 2021. I don’t believe that the change of the calendar will make everything better, but with these last 114 days I want to make sure that even though history might not always say that 2020 was a year of thriving success, it was a year of good and faithful work. I want to see it as a time where relationships were strengthened and that this time was used as an opportunity for much better things to come.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

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