The Sweetness of Christ in 2020
Taken from an interview with John Piper
Precipice of Eternity
As I look back over 2020, the most fundamental experience for me, which colors everything else and has shaped everything else, is the experience of sweeter fellowship with God, and with Jesus through his word, and through the mercies of the Holy Spirit. As I have tried to figure out why this is, I think the most persistent reason that I come up with is that I have lived this year as though walking along the precipice of eternity.
COVID-19 means that floating around me in the air are invisible viruses that specialize in killing 74-year-olds. And then add to that: my city blew up last summer, and 1,500 businesses near my home were burned. And even through the election, buildings just blocks from my house were boarded up out of fear of what might happen with the election results. And as Noël and I have sat together in the evening, night after night, month after month, she would read to me the statistics of the thousands in Minnesota who are infected anew with the virus, and the numbers of how many had died and what their ages were.
So, more than any other year of my life, this one has been lived with an almost daily consciousness of my mortality and the ease with which the entire infrastructure and social order could dissolve — all of this while causing us grief for so many who suffer. It sounds odd, I know, for me to say this year has been good for me when so many have died, so many suffer — I mean, not just suffer from the disease, but suffer economically.
When all of that is taken into account, I have to say this has been very good for me — very good for me. A keen sense of my own mortality, and a realistic view of the inevitability of meeting Jesus face-to-face momentarily, perhaps, or quite soon, has had the effect, both privately and with my wife, and with others, of making the bread of heaven sweeter and the living water more satisfying.
I just read, in fact, yesterday in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” And I suppose I’ve read John a hundred times. Why would it be that now, just now in the closing of this year, that phrase “find pasture” would stand out to me as obvious and real and precious and sweet and a palpable reality?
Jesus promises me that during the pandemic, if I come to him, and he becomes for me the single door to God, to reality, to life, to joy, then I’ll be like a sheep going in to his secure sheepfold, and coming out to graze in pastures of beautiful provisions and perfections of Christ — right in the very midst of the pandemic and the crumbling culture. So, in answer to your question, it’s been a sweet year — it has.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist