Here it is.
We’ve said goodbye to 2020.
And we’re ushering in a new year.
While we’ve all made lots of comments and jokes about not being so sad to see 2020 go, I don’t think any of us expects a new world when we walk out our doors during this first week of 2021. There are still questions. There’s still a pandemic. There’s still division.
There’s a lot of work to do; there’s a lot of reaching out for each of us to work on and there are a lot of barriers that need broken.
We know this.
And yet… there’s something refreshing about a new year.
Think Back Over Your Last Year
If you can, take an inventory of 2020. Not of the hardship, not of the loneliness or sadness – though they may play into this exercise in a way. Instead though, think about the ways you’ve grown.
You may not have come out of 2020 playing a new instrument, or speaking a new language, or even with anything “new” that comes to mind easily (I am right there with you).
But, I’m willing to bet you – we all – grew.
Maybe you learned how to sit with different emotions.
Maybe you learned to see others differently, in a good way.
Maybe you had deeper conversations with those once old habits fell away.
Perhaps you learned to prioritize things differently.
Maybe you spent more time in the Word.
Maybe your prayers changed.
I’m not sure what’s on your list… but if you look, I bet you’ll see growth, even if the year feels like a giant, epic, failure on so many fronts.
Harnessing the “New” in 2021
In whatever ways you saw growth, or even change, none of it has been an accident.
The Bible tells us clearly that everything we experience has a purpose, that God has a plan to bring about his ultimate glory: we know the ending to it all, and we know that we play a part in it, whether our savior returns tomorrow or in 3 million years.
Which means… nothing about 2020 was an accident.
It also means: God has a plan for 2021… and maybe he used 2020 to prepare our hearts for whatever that may be.
So while it feels funny to look forward with expectancy after a year that hasn’t given us much of an indication to do so… that’s exactly what we’re called to do.
The writer of Psalm 130 didn’t go through 2020 (obviously), however, he faced struggles of his own, epic, life binding struggles. In fact, the book opens with the Psalmist crying out from the depths and pleading for mercy. And yet, by verse 5, we read: I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.
Despair bringing hope: that’s what we see time and time again throughout scripture… and just maybe it applies to our lives today too. We’ve experienced despair. Many of us are still experiencing despair. Finances are hard. Jobs are gone or uncertain. Family members feel distant or, in many cases, are gone: sometimes without a goodbye. Maybe we’re starting to understand what “depths” are in new – painful – realities.
But team: we’re called to be a people of hope.
TobyMac has a song, Edge of My Seat. Some of the lyrics include:
Needless to mention, Lord, You got my attention
My eyes are wide with wonder…
I can feel it rushin’ over me
You got me on the edge
I am on the edge of my seat
And I can feel the wonder rushin’ over meYou are openin’ my eyes
You’re openin’ my eyes, Lord
Isn’t that a picture of what waiting with hope, expectantly, might look like today?
God could come here and take away all the pain of the pandemic tomorrow, with a miraculous cure: certainly.
But, assuming his plan is something different, and 2020 is bound to linger into 2021, what if instead of dwelling on the hard, the despair (which definitely deserves it’s due, not to be glossed over), we took inventory of what God has shown and taught us through the “hard,” and looked forward with anticipation toward what he might be preparing our hearts for tomorrow?
How could we better serve others from this perspective? How could we better see God’s movements in the “every day?” How would our conversations change? How could we become more intentional?
The implications here are great. I think God wants us to wait – on the edge of our seats – for whatever the next chapter holds. Let’s go into 2021 with expectant hope in a God who never fails. What hope we have!