When an automobile manufacturer is developing a new vehicle model, part of the development process involves taking prototypes of the new vehicle out into a variety of testing scenarios. The vehicles are driven in a variety of conditions, ranging from sub-zero and frozen to monsoon-like and muddy to blazing hot and dusty. Engines are pushed to their limits, and engineers carefully record how all of the vehicle components react as the vehicle endures extremely unrealistic amounts of time in situations that most drivers will never experience. These extreme conditions, over time, can reveal weak points in the design components, and by purposefully subjecting the vehicle to these conditions prior to mass production, engineers can improve the vehicle’s design to protect against these potential weaknesses.
It seems to me that this year has been one long test track for humanity, with the major difference being that we weren’t going through it with prototypes. We’ve been riding this out with the vehicle we were born with, so we come into this experience with significant wear and tear. Just as the vehicle tests identify weaknesses that could pose threats to the long-term safety of the vehicles, our time in 2020 has identified weaknesses in many of us that could also severely limit our life experiences going forward.
We haven’t just been battling Covid-19 this year. We have faced significant displays of racial injustice and simmering anger that has occasionally erupted. We have dealt with the non-stop barrage of political parties trying to convince us that people who don’t think like us are somehow enemies of the state. We have seen our neighbors hit with devastating natural disasters, whether that be a seemingly ceaseless barrage of hurricanes and tropical storms, or unchecked wildfires that wiped out entire communities and hundreds of thousands of acres of forest. And through it all, we’ve had the true nature of our hearts revealed. It would appear that many of us have some structural issues that have been uncovered as a result of these constant stressors.
Some of us have gotten too insulated in our daily lives, and have become blind to painful issues that our neighbors are facing. Some of us have forgotten how to truly love the ones that are closest to us. Some of us have gotten so concerned about our own long-term financial comfort that we have been unwilling to help someone get through an immediate financial crisis. These and other character flaws have been revealed in us this year, as 2020 has pushed all of us to limits we never expected to endure. Now the question becomes what to do about it.
So many of us simply want to let 2020 fade into oblivion, but that would be a mistake. We have an opportunity to take a hard look at the test results, and see what weaknesses in our lives have been revealed by the multiple stress tests of this year. We can work on our relationships with family and loved ones. We can seek to better understand the lives and perspectives of those who have different life experiences. We can become a little less selfish, and a little more selfless. God has revealed to us many ways that we can do better when it comes to loving our neighbors as ourselves. It would be a shame if we failed to learn those lessons this year.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron