way to God
way to God

2020 began with all the vim and vigour almost every year starts with; the excitement, the resolutions to do much better, the expectations of greater exploits, the joy of newness and many more. In the part of Africa from whence I hail, this was another year commenced in church with a lot of prayer for favour, grace and mercy for the duration of the year and, in fact, in hindsight, looking at the turn of events in the course of the year, this is an exercise of faith that shouldn’t be stopped by Africans anytime soon. Of course, there were rumours of the Corona virus lurking around even then but, in everyone’s defence, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ineptitude in communicating the true scale of things had everyone disregarding the danger which lurked right ahead and I was one of such.

The year began smoothly and without much event; we purposed and we planned and looked forward to a boisterous year and, personally, I started making moves which were sure to secure my whole future. Even as rumours of the virus swelled, the attitude and presentations of officials of WHO had us all still in the blind concerning the upcoming turmoil and we bought into it fully. We lived life, attended weddings, and enjoyed each other, however, suddenly, without much warning, the unforeseen happened.

To recap the entire year, however, would be cruel on us all. We all lived through the pandemic – the cruelty of the past year – and none of us was spared of all the many losses that came along with it; family, friends, loved ones, property, freedoms, opportunities, ambitions and many other important stuff were lost in this crazy year and time might not be able to heal some of the wounds suffered. We are also all well aware of how exhausting life became and how it seemed there was no end in sight for the calamities that ensued. 2020 was brutal!!! To think about some of the people we lost could probably drive some of us crazy so, yes, let’s not go there.

However, as everyone expresses relief all over the world for surviving 2020 and many also reminisce on the lessons and pain it came with as well as the challenges and turmoil; as many contemplate and hope against hope that 2021 doesn’t end up becoming as calamitous as its predecessor; as countless folks sound alarm warnings about the future and political climates all over the globe look gloomy at best, especially for the believing Christian, I cannot help but seek to go a bit against the trend and the status quo.

2020 was merciless; true! At least, for the most part. For once, losses were very visible and gains very silent; it looked as if the world was finally off the rails and falling apart at the hem but, in the midst of it all, I couldn’t help but notice that several miracles and, yes, you read it right, MIRACLES! Several of those did take place and were very noticeable even amidst the grief and despair. Indeed, it is these miracles that I chose to remind myself of so 2020 doesn’t become a blackspot in my calendar of years.

What miracles you might ask?

  1. Families came together for a change.

This might seem irrelevant to most but, in fact, this was the greatest miracle of this pandemic. For years, with the ever-increasingly busy world and the advent of social media bringing about a gap in our social and societal structures, many families were quietly falling apart. Husbands and wives were not getting time for each other anymore, kids were being pulled further and further away from parents, life was drawing everyone apart and nothing – no solution – seemed capable of salvaging this worrisome state of affairs. Around the world, divorce rates were skyrocketing and many families were on the brink on imploding but then came the unlikely solution: a global pandemic triggering various lockdowns across the globe. Now whilst the idea of lockdowns will never be welcome in my vocabulary for its restrictiveness and vulnerability to governmental overreach and abuse, I couldn’t help but notice the immense healing it brought to countless families during this period.

As the world came to a standstill, family members could no longer avoid each other or come up with the usual excuses; everyone had to face each other without escape and situations had to be dealt with head-on. The great thing was, from various sighted reports, this proved to be very fruitful as many families finally reconnected and received some rejuvenation in their relations. Husbands got to learn how to love their wives again and vice versa; parents and children found each other and ultimately got to spend quality time together. THIS WAS A WONDERFUL MIRACLE!!

Of course, not all families experienced this. It is indeed fairly expected that some probably fell apart under these same circumstances but the scale of things was majorly in the favour of the former.

In my nation, for instance, the number of pregnant women in the country more than doubled within the lockdown season, an indication that many couples needed this time together to reconnect their otherwise dwindling love lives and THAT IS A GOOD THING! Reading countless stories of people who, due to this season, got the chance to heal and reunite with their families brought great joy to my heart.

  1. People (Workers) got to rest.

The busy world before 2020 didn’t only ruin families. No. That busy world, more than that, destroyed many lives and killed countless others. In the world of old, many companies and corporations had very unfriendly working conditions and workers could barely get any rest. I knew people who had never taken time to rest in years cos the thinking was rest wasn’t affordable. In fact, for many, rest was for the lazy but what we were not noticing was the ever increasing rate of stress-related deaths and diseases. Many toiled for years only to spend whatever was earned healing themselves of many sicknesses and ailments they picked up along the way. At that rate, it was being predicted that stress or work related deaths was only gonna become a norm in society and there was no slowing down in sight. Well, Corona again stepped in. Lockdowns came into force and, suddenly, the job or task which seemed to be the most important thing in the world was no longer needed. Indeed, abruptly, majority of the things many people felt they couldn’t do without such as completing certain jobs or tasks became the most futile of endeavours in the grand scheme of things. Suddenly, that merger could actually be postponed; that project could be halted; that assignment could be left incomplete and no one will die!! Wow!!

Imagine the shock of many when they realised the things that meant the end of the world for them, career wise, if not done, were not so world ending after all. Imagine the horror when many realised that all the solid reasons they felt they had in time past were nothing but excuses. Imagine that. Finally, workers got to rest, sleep and regain energy overspent over the years.

Did the world end when your work stopped? Shouldn’t that tell you something about what really matters in this life? Well, it seems many did learn to appreciate the important things in life more and that is the second miracle of 2020.

  1. Technology humanised and adapted.

Prior to 2020, technology was seemingly tearing the world apart. Whilst creating the ease to do more, it was inadvertently destroying the very fabric that held societies together. Social media, which was supposed to connect people, was disconnecting us from each other at an alarming rate. For every good thing technology introduced, many bad followed and made the former of no effect. In fact, personally, I was reaching the point of finally withdrawing from the technology world just to have my sanity. Alas, 2020 changed everything! Suddenly TikTok came and with it came so much joy and display of talents that families and people were connecting at a rate never seen before. Suddenly social media was serving that connection purpose it was originally intended for. Apps such as TikTok brought some humanity into the technological advancements and showed that with the right use of these tools, people could be brought together and not separated and it was a joy to behold.

On the work front, Zoom came and totally transformed how people worked. Suddenly Facebook and its cohorts saw the need to adapt or get left behind. Suddenly their flaws which they was blatantly ignored in time past was brought to bare and they had to adjust or die out. This was a good win or humanity.

Personally I still feel tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube need to be toppled for their dangerous leanings lately especially in the areas of censorship and privacy and that their monopoly needs to be broken but, at least, in 2020, challenged by these newbies, we saw some positivity. Long may it continue!

  1. Heroism and Volunteerism.

If there’s one trait of humanity that came to prominence within the year of the pandemic, it was the trait of sacrifice. From frontline workers, be it health workers or emergency services, to the many other essential workers, many put their lives at risk within this period for the sake of everyone else and this would always be worth celebrating.

Who would have thought prior to 2020 that a young lady in the USA would put her life at risk shopping for the elderly free of charge and be at their beck and call just so they avoid contracting the virus?

Or that many tailors and seamstresses in many nations will put profit aside and sew nose masks in great quantities just so it can be shared for those who couldn’t afford to buy the medical grade ones?

Who ever thought that industries will put their regular productions on hold just to produce essential needs such as sanitisers and many others just to meet the supply shortages?

Again who would have thought that many would voluntarily put their lives at risk taking on various demanding tasks just so many others will be put at ease?

To be honest, prior to 2020, many of these were unimaginable with the state of the world and human relations. I guess calamity has a way of bringing out the humanity in us and this is another miracle I am very grateful for.

  1. Peace and decrease in crime rate.

2020, despite its well-known attachment to all things negative, in retrospect, has actually probably been the most peaceful year in the past four to five decades. For once, Israel and Palestine, a regular hotspot for chaos and violence was peaceful even if not on a voluntary basis. Syria and Afghanistan were longer dominating the news for various atrocities. Terrorists groups also took a well desired break from wrecking pain and havoc and even suicide bombers for once chose to live. Lol.

Crime rates in many cities across the globe dropped to their barest minimum for the most part of the year as even criminals feared untimely death. Most memorably though, the year climaxed with Trump spearheading a lot of Nobel Peace Prize deserving peace accords between Israel and many Arab/Islamic nations. ALL THESE WERE UNPRECEDENTED!

Of course, Donald might never get the credit due him for those miraculous deals but posterity will honour him for these great achievements.

In Africa, the story was no different as many warring factions ceremoniously took breaks from their battles to protect their lives. Ironical, if you think about it. 2020 was just weird!!!

  1. Improved use of technology by institutions which have fought it for decades.

Businesses, schools and churches (religious organisations), many of whom have been avid opposers of the use of technology over the past decade especially regarding social media, miraculously trooped to same during 2020 and its pandemic. Suddenly, businesses especially many small and medium scaled ones who had thought of technology as not profitable enough were online desperately marketing to stay alive. Delivery services were the new kingpins in town and business owners miraculously could now see their value. To God be the Glory!

Governments which had previously vehemently opposed the use of technology to administer teaching and learning and had made no room for the necessary infrastructure were now scrambling helter-skelter for help in facilitating online tutelage for students. Unfortunately here in Africa, this lesson was only mildly learnt as the people ourselves are very abrasive towards technology. This meant many students stayed home for almost a year with no learning whatsoever. Sad. Internet providers were also one of the most unscrupulous villains in this period, capitalising on the need for their services to increase their rates even at the expense of a people already suffering under the pandemic. To these entities, I say SHAME ON YOU! However, despite all this, many people got the opportunity to access materials online to study and improve and for some lucky schools and students, technology became the unlikely saviour in 2020.

Churches. Lol. This group for years refused to adapt to the changing tides and strictly held on to the old ways rejecting every suggestion and avenue for the use of technology, especially social media, in the church but yet again Corona changed everything. As I saw churches, religious bodies and ministries flood social media during the lockdowns I couldn’t help but thank God for the pandemic. Weird, huh? Well, as a timeless advocate of this initiative, it was almost a teardrop moment for me as I saw many scramble to gain relevance online including the ones who had thrown my colleagues and I out just the year before when we went to make a case for the use of technology in churches in today’s rapidly changing world. When a pastor, in a meeting, admitted his error for refusing to listen just months prior because he didn’t see the need at the time, I felt fulfilled. Hopefully, many of them won’t retrogress but continue to explore the world of technology and its use for the modern day church. I guess time will tell.

I’m sure if you’ve gotten this far, you’re suddenly realising 2020 wasn’t as horrible as you thought and that in the middle of the storm, miracles which have lasting impacts occurred and were all for our good. I’m also sure some other miracles I probably missed out on have come to mind right now and a smile is currently on your lips. Well can you share them with me in the comments below so we can be grateful together?

Miracles are all around us. They happen every day and are always at risk of being overlooked. You probably did that concerning 2020 but I hope this piece reminds you not to do same with 2021 even if it ends up becoming the senior brother of 2020. Learn to recognise the miracles in the midst of the mess. Learn to focus on the good in the midst of bad. Learn to see the miracles when all around you points you in the direction of the calamity.

Happy New Year!!!

Remain loved and blessed…

Agostino.

([email protected])

©2021lessonsfromaSTRANGER

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