Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in the Baptist Message on Dec. 18, 2020.

This year not been easy for Louisiana.

No one could have foreseen when 2020 began that, in just a few months, an unprecedented pandemic would shut down America’s economy and a novel coronavirus would infect more than 200,000 Louisianians, with over 6,000 confirmed deaths.

As if the coronavirus didn’t cause enough loss, Louisiana has also had a particularly bad hurricane season, too. In August, Hurricane Laura killed at least 28 Louisianians, destroyed over 10,000 homes, and caused up to $14 billion in damages. Tragically, while we were still recovering from Laura, Hurricanes Delta and Zeta followed, further devastating much of the state.

The destructive hurricane season and the pandemic have hurt Louisiana jobs as well. Although the economy has begun to recover, the unemployment rate reached 9.4% in October, and small businesses have been hit especially hard.

This year, I have worked as hard as I can to help Louisianians recover from these disasters. To help those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, I introduced a bill providing $10 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund, as well as two bills that simplify forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which have been a vital lifeline for Louisiana’s small businesses.

Louisianians are tough. We have been through worse and always come out stronger. We are tired. We will, however, make it through this challenging year and be the better for it, with God’s help.

And there can be no better season to remind ourselves how grateful we are for God’s care. Despite the pandemic, the hurricanes, the job losses, the politics, and everything else we have suffered through in 2020, we can still be confidently thankful this Christmas season. Yes, we have lost much, but we have never lost God’s love, and we can remind ourselves that “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

This Christmas, through all the pain and loss, we remember that our biggest problem was solved before any of us were even born. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down to earth to reconcile us to God. That incredible act of love, God taking on human flesh, changed history forever.

It can be difficult to focus on God’s love in such hard times. But this is exactly when we must draw encouragement from the Lord. The same God who loved us by being born into humble surroundings and dying in our place is the same God who will carry us through any trial we ever face—whether that storm is called Laura or COVID-19.

So whatever life’s trials, whatever we have suffered through this year, we can hold onto God’s love and know that we didn’t make it through 2020 by ourselves and we don’t face 2021 alone.

In light of this hope, Becky and I wish you a merry Christmas and joyful new year!