My Open Letter to 2020
by Justin Rizzo
My first reaction to you was: I could have done better without you. But upon further consideration (and a good amount of prayer), I’ve somehow become grateful for you.
You have been the great evaluator of my life. You have caused me to question many things. You have caused me to ask myself repeatedly: What is holding my heart and propping up my life right now?
For decades I’ve said, I want to build my life on the rock of Christ and nothing else, but you made me question whether I’ve actually done it.
In many ways, I’ve found my soul to be starving and desperate because of you. You probably think that’s a negative thing. Who wants to have a starving soul? But in actuality, this spiritual hunger is a gift from God. The Bible actually says I am blessed if I hunger (Matthew 5:6). (Have you ever heard of fasting?)
Some think that desiring more of God’s presence just automatically happens, that it is the normal occurrence of the human heart. But hunger for God doesn’t just happen. Hungering for Him is actually the proof that the Spirit is at work in our hearts. And I have seen firsthand within my heart an increased hunger for His presence because of you, 2020.
In 2020, I have gained a fresh gratefulness for the simple devotion that God asks of us, which He lays out so plainly in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7). I have come back to these chapters often this year. In them, Jesus lays out a clear pathway to remaining close to Him.
He gives us six negative toxins that we are to resist (anger, immorality, disloyalty in relationships, manipulation, demanding justice, and retaliation). And He gives us five miracle-grow formulas that we are to pursue (prayer, fasting, giving money, blessing our adversaries, and serving)—these are the keys to having a heart that flourishes in relationship with Him, no matter the circumstances.
Perhaps the gift of 2020 is that the props that held us up are being removed. Perhaps the invitation of this year was to allow extravagant faith and desperate hunger to awaken inside of us. As believers, we’re called to walk in both faith and hunger, not as conflicting realities but as a harmonious symphony that is the Christian walk.
Whether your reflection on this year is filled with incredible testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness or heart-rending challenges you never could have imagined, I want to encourage you that God is in control and has never for a moment been intimidated by 2020. He has not been surprised or taken aback. He is still sufficient. His promises still remain. His call is still irrevocable.
The human race has endured 2020 together. We are all in the same ocean. The difference between feeling like you are in a leaky kayak about to capsize and feeling like you are carried along by a strong and steady barge is the extent to which you are rooted, grounded, and leaning on your Beloved.
I don’t know what 2021 holds. But no matter what it brings, it is my prayer that I would walk through it close to Jesus and thriving in Him. I want to remain full of vibrant faith and desperate hunger for more of Him as I let Him lead me to the fullness of love that He desires from my heart.
So, to 2020, I simply say thanks. Thanks for awakening me to areas where I was building my life on props that were inadequate instead of on the foundation that can never be shaken. Thanks for nudging me closer to my Savior.
If you were writing a letter to 2020, what would you say?
Looking for a way to ring in the new year with other believers? Join IHOPKC and ministries from across the earth for the Global Upper Room prayer meeting this New Year’s Eve. Learn more and stream online at ihopkc.org/glo.
Justin was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, where he developed a passion and love for music at an early age. He began playing a variety of instruments and started leading worship at age 12. He has released five albums and been featured on multiple compilation projects along with writing and producing two full-length musicals. In addition, he travels extensively to lead worship and speak at conferences and events around the world. Justin is currently a full-time staff member at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, Missouri, where he serves as a worship leader, songwriter, composer, and blogger.