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By almost every account I’m seeing, people agree that the year 2020 is a mess. A mess so big we don’t know how to climb out of it and we always know how to climb out of everything. Every time things start to look better and we get a glimmer of hope, something new comes right around the corner and tries to knock us down again.

This has been a year like no other. From incredible protests across the country for Black Lives Matter to police officers fired for mocking a young man who died by their hands to innocent, upstanding police being attacked to military members murdered, chopped into pieces, and buried in fields with massive reports of sexual assault in the military being exposed, to the human trafficking nightmare in Bahrain to Native Americans rights to LGBTQ and abortion court cases, to disputes with other countries…And I didn’t even mention COVID-19 (132,000 have died as I write this in the U.S. alone). One person tells you to wear a mask and the next person tells you not to. Politicians actually post on social media saying that COVID-19 is fake, a ploy by the liberals to control us. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me how everyone dying in hospitals is the liberals controlling us. As a result of the pandemic, children spend more time at home and away from their teachers. Teachers represent the largest percentage of those reporting child abuse. Let this sink in – there were 4.3 million referrals to child protective services in 2018 and nearly 80% of abusers were the parents of the child (Schmidt and Natanson). Everything listed is real, unfortunately, and it’s not fake news.

If 2020 does nothing else, I hope it will prompt us to examine our hearts. I know the economy is important. I know healthcare is important. I know politics are important. We have gotten used to looking at leaders as if they lead by the heart, as if simply because they are in a position of power they must be good and just and morally sound. Yes, leaders are held to high expectations but leaders are people. Military members are people. Police officers are people. No matter the job someone holds, we can’t have a country full of people who don’t examine their hearts. People who are more concerned at being right and arguing on social media to blame others than they are at keeping people safe and caring about others with true compassion are continuing the wrecking ball that is 2020. You know it never worked when our parents told us to do as they said and not as they did. The same is true with leadership and while many leaders are being ousted for the behavior of those under their watch, each person has to be held accountable for themselves.

Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth comes from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:17-19 (NIV)

It’s easy to miss the good right now. But it’s still out there and it’s July 4th. I hope you take a minute to check on your spark. Make sure it’s still there. Make sure you are okay. Make sure you are reminded that our country is still a wonderful place. Choose to believe that there are still more good hearts than there are bad, and that we will all help each other through the rest of this year to get to 2021 better than we were before. Remember that yes, we are missing out on some cool things like fireworks and water parks, but what we still have is just as important and not to be taken for granted.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9-10(NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

Excerpt from The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 

“Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.” America’s Founding Documents, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript. Accessed 4 July 2020.

Schmidt, Samantha, and Hannah Natanson. “With kids stuck at home, ER doctors see more severe cases of child abuse.” The Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/04/30/child-abuse-reports-coronavirus/.

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