With the many unforeseen events in 2020 that have led it to be notoriously dubbed (and memed) as the worst year ever, this year’s Verse of the Year couldn’t be more apt.
Released yesterday, YouVersion’s annual round-up revealed that the year’s most shared, bookmarked and highlighted Bible verse across the globe is Isaiah 41:10.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Around late May, “justice” was the most-searched term, coinciding with the wave of social justice movements around the world, like the Black Lives Matter protests.
Other search words that rose to the top throughout 2020 include “healing”, “peace” and “love”.
With many still deeply affected by the pandemic and yearning for that quiet refuge amid the storm, these search terms are not that surprising.
In fact, last year’s most popular verse (Philippians 4:6) already seemed to reflect a people who were anxious and desperate to find hope.
Recognising that this has been an even more challenging year, YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald pointed out that the fact people were turning to the Bible and searching for answers was heartening.
“These top search terms really show what’s been weighing on the hearts and minds of people around the world at key points throughout the year,” he said.
“They reveal how people are seeking God as they wrestle with the difficult circumstances they’ve faced in 2020, and that’s something we can celebrate.”
Another piece of good news: YouVersion reported that Bible engagement reached new heights on its app this year, topping 2019’s record!
It’s really encouraging to see people around the world choosing to move closer to God rather than further from Him.
In addition, YouVersion shared that over 81 million Verse of the Day Stories were completed. Introduced in April, this new initiative provides more context on that day’s verse, including a short video explanation by church leaders as well as some reflection questions and prayer.
Just a month earlier, YouVersion also released a Prayer feature in its app for users to create and share prayers with friends. Since its launch in March, over 24 million prayers have been created and 1.6 million prayers have been shared.
WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO 2020?
For the person who is weary and spent, I would like to encourage you to continue trusting in the Lord.
Offering a ray of hope, 2020’s Verse of the Year points us back to the greater God who will strengthen and uphold us despite the sense of despair the year has brought.
Looking at Isaiah 41:10 in context, we hear God’s words of encouragement to His chosen people who have been exiled into Babylon.
Imagine the sense of abandonment they must have experienced. From being a great nation, they were now a scattered and enslaved people. They would have probably felt that all hope was lost.
The book of Isaiah indeed records that the Israelites ended up losing faith in God due to the challenges they faced.
They even accused God of turning a blind eye towards them, lamenting “… my way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God” (Isaiah 40:27).
Have we similarly lost faith in God, allowing seeds of doubt to be planted in our hearts?
Some of us may feel lost and abandoned, and wonder: Where is God in all of this?
WE CAN BE ASSURED OF GOD’S PRESENCE, POWER
Fear is a natural reaction of many towards such an unexpected pandemic, but as we search for answers to “fear”, let’s also be reminded of verses such as Isaiah 41:10.
The Verse of the Year shows us God’s response to an unfaithful nation. Despite the Israelites’ complaints, God still continued to affirm them.
“… for I am with you”
“… for I am your God”
“… I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
It may not feel easy to get back up from 2020 – maybe your mental health took a heavy toll, or maybe your family is facing a huge financial burden – but as Isaiah 41:10 says, God is upholding us.
God has not abandoned us. No matter how distant He may seem, no matter how much suffering this year seems to have brought, God’s hand is still at work.
Going back to how the book of Isaiah ends, we know that God has promised the coming of a new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 66:22). After judgement comes restoration.
A day will come when our momentary sufferings will pass, and we can look forward to the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promises.
Until then, I pray that we will continue to draw closer to God. Have faith that the events of 2020 are part of God’s sovereign plan, and that they will be used for His glory and for our good!
- What is YOUR verse of the year? What word from the Lord has brought you comfort and encouragement this year?
- How have you seen the mighty hand of God at work in your life in 2020?
- When fear and uncertainty strike, are you running towards or away from God?