Dr. Phil: I am sure many of us will be happy to see the end of 2020! In many ways it has been a dark year as many have been personally touched by the virus, had their livelihood threatened, and have dealt with a range of social issues ranging from disruption of plans to frustration and even depression.
As I was reflected on the year, one thing I have become acutely aware of, is the need for hope during every stage of our life. I think the real threat during this year was the sense of a lack of hope for the future and that life will be brighter again, or at least return to some semblance of normality. I believe that without hope it is impossible to have the faith required to face our daily lives and challenges; faith is the evidence of things hoped for.
Christmas is around the corner and provides us a glimmer of hope at the end of the dark year. What better expression of hope can there be that God came down in the form of a man to reconcile us to himself. As we celebrate this year, I think we all probably need some measure of hope that can only come from the Prince of Peace. I join Paul in praying for you that, “. . .the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13) Regardless of what 2020 has thrown your way, may you experience his joy and peace during this Christmas Season. As never before, he is a light in our darkness, our one true hope that we can count on even in the face of a pandemic.
As you have read in this newsletter, leadership training is continuing and people’s needs are being served in each of our fields. This is actually the benefit of a mentoring model; reproducing ministry is not based upon one seminar or personality. We have tried to highlight some of the innovations, but at its core our ministry has always been about one life touching another life. This foundation we have laid over the years with our Network Coaches has resulted in their fruitfulness, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
While the realities this year has curtailed my travel and ability to encourage and teach our network coaches in person, our model of ministry means that it is not just dependent on me. God is so much bigger than the temporary challenges we face now and we know the time will come when it will be possible to travel to each field in person again. As I was reading 1 Thess. 2:17-20 the other day I could not help identifying with Paul’s words, “But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul [Phil!], did, again and again – but Satan [the pandemic] blocked our way. For what is our HOPE, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, YOU are our glory and joy.”
Those who have had the privilege to serve around the world are my hope. As Paul expressed, their lives are our glory and joy. Remember Caleb? He spent forty years of wandering in desert due to the lack of faith of others and then at 85 he says that he was as strong as he was at 40 and was ready to fight the battle to gain the same inheritance promised to him decades earlier. In his case, this inheritance was a piece of land. Our inheritance is those relationship that we are contending for the faith with – it is they who are our crowns. One day we will lay them at his feet as we gather around the throne.
As partners with us over the years, and particularly during this past year, you also share in the glory and joy that comes from transformed lives. This newsletter is so inadequate in sharing all the ways these lives are being touched. But they are also part of your inheritance. When you are lacking joy or hope, think on them; it is in them that we can glory.