The Year in Review

by Ken Weliever

Last week, while I was watching the Today Show, they aired their biggest news stories of 2019. At some point into the 15-minute montage of video headlines, I soon realized that most of the stories were negative. They highlighted crises. Violence. Natural disasters. Political scandals. Betrayal. Cheating. Sexual infidelity. Child abuse. Death. Disease. Mass shootings. Government stalemate. The impeachment of a President.

To be fair, there were a few feel-good stories mixed in, but most celebrated athletic accomplishments of sports stars or the milestones and successes of familiar pop figures.

And then I wondered… How much good news was there in 2019? How many unknown, common, ordinary, everyday folks lived their lives and went about doing good?

  • How many baptisms were there in 2019? How many men and women, boys and girls dedicated their lives to Christ?
  • How much money was given to charity and churches this year? And how much of that money came in the form of small donations from people who are not wealthy, but generously desire to do their part?
  • How many husbands and wives went to work every day, were faithful to their spouses, taught their children righteous values, and served the Lord to the best of their ability?
  • How many young people remembered God in the days of their youth? Shunned evil influences? Learned and practiced Biblical values? Participated in efforts to serve their community? And used their time, energy, and efforts to enhance their talents and prepare their lives for a successful future serving the Lord and their fellow man?
  • How many service organizations volunteered their time and gave of their monetary resources to perform charitable works around the world?
  • How many lives were improved, families helped, and souls saved by concerned, caring, and compassionate people?
  • How many people in their small congregations and little communities helped a neighbor or a stranger? Offered a kind word? Took the time to write a note, make a phone call or visit someone who needed some encouragement?
  • How many preachers proclaimed the good news of Jesus? Taught classes? And faithfully ministered in the Word—not just weekly, but daily?
  • How many shepherds faithfully watched out for the souls of their flock? They pastored without fanfare or notoriety. But souls were nurtured and nourished because of their dedication and devotion.
  • How many deacons served their churches? Often working behind the scenes, engaging in work for which they too often receive little credit or recognition.

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But I personally have met folks in the past year like those described above. They don’t make the news. There are no headlines celebrating their lives. But they quietly go about their daily activities, meeting their personal responsibilities, fulfilling their duties, and doing good.

They remind me of three men mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:15-19—Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. They are described as having “devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” They supplied something that was needed. And Paul said, “they refreshed my spirit and yours. Give recognition to such people.”

These three men, unheard of, unheralded, and unknown, find their place in sacred Scripture—not because of some great deed, world-shaking exploit, or miraculous work. These men are honored because of their devotion. Their service. Their encouragement.

The real headlines for 2019 belong to similar folks. Decent. Hard-working. God-fearing. Charitable. Compassionate. And caring. They’re the glue that’s holding this world together. I salute you. Commend you. And thank God for you. Don’t “grow weary of doing good, for in due season (you) will reap, if (you) do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

What could YOU do this week to “recognize” such a person in your own life?