1865 was the year that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Only 5 days earlier General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War came to an end. 1865 was also the year when the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified (abolishing slavery), and it was the year the Salvation Army was founded. It was also the year that Charles Darwin's book, Origin of the Species, was first published.
1945 was the year that atomic bombs were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the two deadliest days in the history of mankind. 1945 was also the end of WWII. Guitarist Eric Clapton and singer Carly Simon were both born that year.
1963 was the year that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. That was a terrible time for our nation. But 1963 was also the year of the "March on Washington" when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, considered by many to be one of the oracle highlights in the history of the English language. It was also the year basketball great, Michael Jordan, was born.
2001 was the year of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York City and on the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. 2,977 people perished in those attacks. But it was also the year that Gladiator won the Academy award for best film.
The point here being that even in the "worst" of years, life goes on and often some very good things take place. On April 20, 1999 two boys shot and killed 12 students and one teacher at the Columbine High School. But it was on that very same day that Ruth's and my fifth child, Jonathan, was born. And in this year that has been described as the "year from hell" our family is soon going to celebrate the marriage of our daughter, Esther, to Marcus Shand. And as most of us witnessed just last Sunday, this is the year of the sending out of Steve and Renee Hoey as missionaries to Alaska with LightShine.
Every year can be of crisis or a year of opportunity…or both. Our current attitude towards the challenges of this year are what will shape how we come through this pandemic. My challenges – warnings really – against becoming isolated, against "hunkering down," and so forth have all been driven by a desire that we each see the very big picture. Yes, the coronavirus can be deadly, but statistically it is highly unlikely that it will be deadly to you or to me. So let us see the opportunities before us. Let us try and look beyond the crisis of the moment to see Christ and his calling, Christ and his work. May we see beyond the dread of the day to see the opportunity to preach and live out the good news of Jesus Christ. For truly he came to give us life and to give it to the full (John 10:10b).