Emotional HealthHealing 4 minutes to read

Recently, I met with close friends who I hadn’t seen in over six months. As I was driving to the meeting location (outdoors, masks required!), I reflected back on the year 2020. I knew they would ask me about my year: how it went, how I’m doing, how my family is, and my plans for the future. 

As I considered 2020 and all the dramatic changes that took place, my mind landed on a prompt I received back in March, around the time COVID-19 lockdowns began. The message placed on my heart was simply “loss or gain.” While I wasn’t fully certain of the meaning of this message, I did know that my attitude and outlook would be tested against the changing backdrop of life. What was ahead? Loss or gain? 

If I can encourage you as we enter 2021, I would gently suggest that you seek opportunities for gain. Not gain from a worldly perspective but from an eternal perspective. Discover where it’s possible to risk and grow deeper in your relationships, in your spiritual walk, and in your trust of the One who knows all your heartaches, losses, and challenges. Join me as I share a few steps that may allow gain to take place in your life. Here’s what I learned from 2020.

First, as my local community was shrinking, I knew I needed to be proactive in forming a virtual community. I reached out to four men who I know, respect, and care about. Four guys who live in three different states. I asked each one if they would be interested in joining me in a book study group. Each said yes! The essence of the study is to learn to become the best version of the men God designed and intended each of us to be. Simple task, right? Not really, but potential for gain.

We landed on a Tony Evans book titled No More Excuses. From there a schedule for meetings was created and a rotation of who would lead each week was decided. A Zoom room was established and finally a 5-question check-in sheet was created. The check-in questions are listed below. Feel free to use them in your own personal development group. 

  • What current challenge are you facing? 
  • What recent victory have you experienced? 
  • How is God moving in your life? 
  • What Scripture recently impacted you? 
  • How are you progressing at being truly known by those you love?

The group has been consistent and dedicated in learning from the book and from each other. Each man striving to reach the Higher Ground the Lord has called him to occupy. We’re in a second book now (The Heart Of A Warrior by Michael Thompson) with a couple new guys and we’re all learning and growing from the time together in fellowship. That’s gain! 

The second step toward gain was a recommitment to intentional daily devotionals and time in the Word and with the Lord. As the frequency of personal interactions and activities were shrinking, there was a heightened sense of urgency to commit to the discipline of being a disciple of Christ. The YouVersion Bible app is terrific and has been helpful in keeping me focused and disciplined in my spiritual walk and development. There are hundreds of topics and specific studies to consider. This year, I walked through 57 devotionals. A dear friend recently mailed to me a Dallas Willard book titled Hearing God. This resource has been helpful in keeping me focused on and energized about what is truly important. That’s a gain too!

Finally, I’ve had to elevate my trust in the Lord. My two daughters now live 3,037 & 281 miles from home and are outside the reach of my direct care. Individually, they experienced a fire evacuation, an emergency room visit, a 5-year relationship break-up, a COVID related work furlough, and the challenges of a shrinking social circle. Prayer, trusting in Him, and the spiritual foundation they received are calming influences. Social unrest in my hometown (Portland, Oregon) has been unsettling. I must trust in Him to provide safety and protection for me, my loved ones, and my neighbors. 

My wife will soon retire after 34 years of public service. I choose to trust that the Lord has her and our finances in His hands and in His plans. Last year, I passed the 60 year mark in life. I must trust in Him for good health, clarity, and discernment (yes, I also understand my part!). Pure Desire Ministries relies upon courageous people who reach out in search of health, healing, and restoration. The Lord is and continues to be faithful. And in Him, Pure Desire continues to be a positive influence in the lives of many. We can, should, and must trust in Him. 

In the NIV Bible there are 170 references to trust. Many spell out the blessings of trusting in the Lord and some passages convey the pitfalls of not trusting Him. I know which side of the discussion I want to live on. If your world is upside down with uncertainty, do your best to trust in Him. To trust that better days are ahead. For many, 2020 was heartbreaking and devastating. Perhaps it was for you. Please know that you are not alone. In 2020, I repeatedly turned to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 for encouragement: 

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

My prayer is that you will seek and receive an abundance of gain in the upcoming year. Gain in your relationships, gain in your personal walk with Jesus, and gain from your trust in Him. In 2021 and beyond!