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By David Bachelor, PhD
The suspense is over. 2020 is officially the worst year in living memory. So says the latest edition of Lone Star Literary Life which joined a chorus of other media sources in condemning 2021’s predecessor. In the nation’s capital The Hill made the same proclamation last week. Time magazine went even further in their comparison of 2020 with other epochs. Time declared 2020 “the worst year ever” in their December 14th edition. To amplify this statement Time crossed out 2020 with a red X on their cover picture. Time has only given four other subjects the “Red X” treatment. All other recipients of the red “X” were mass-murders or terrorists (Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, and Osama Bin Laden), not an inanimate mental construct.
The Hill described 2020 as “. . . a year of loss, of anxiety, of poverty and of disease. Recovering from the last 12 months is likely to define the entire decade ahead.” The litany of felonies charged to this rogue year by media sources are: more than 1.5 million deaths by COVID-19; economic disaster; political and social mayhem; wildfires in California and Australia; and the deaths of Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Chadwick Boseman. By their measure 2020 was truly an annus horribilis.
The Bible chronicles many tragic years but none so concentrated with woe as the time period covered in the book of Job. In short order, Job experienced the loss of his cattle and livelihood, his employees were either killed or carried into human trafficking, and natural disasters destroyed real estate and took the lives of his ten children (Job 1). While Job processed these losses, his health was destroyed, and he broke out in horrible welts all over his body (Job 2:7). To add insult to injury, Job’s friends told Job he brought this terrible year on himself because of his sins (Job 4:6-7). Job responded by cursing the calendar- but not the date most people would expect. Job did not curse the previous 12 months but rather the date of his birth (Job 3:3). One bad year caused Job to disregard all his previous blessings.
The magazine America attacked the target Job neglected. The Dec 30 issue contained an article entitled “O God, let 2020 go to hell: a New Year’s prayer of rage.” The author declares, “So let us dwell on the absolutely terrible, the wretched, the God-awful things that fell upon all of us in the Year of Our Lord, 2020, and ask God, in his infinite mercy, to curse them.” I suggest another solution and propose we adopt the one Job embraced at the end of his annus horribilus. He prayed for his friends (yes, the ones who condemned him). It turns out his prayer was the trigger event that ended the tragedy of the previous year (Job 42:10). It may be that in 2021, God is waiting for just such a change of heart. Not just from individuals, but from a world that has focused on itself for many times more than 12 months.