One year ago, when we were contemplating the new, uncharted year ahead, none of us had any idea of what 2020 would hold for us.
I would guess no one thought that we would be in the midst of a global pandemic that would claim thousands and thousands of lives. No one could have imagined living with masks, social distancing, COVID tests, quarantining, virtual schooling, zoom meetings, and commercial shutdowns.
Yet here we are one year later, and all those things are the norm. And now we are looking ahead to 2021 and wondering what this new year will bring. If you are feeling apprehension or anxiety about the new year because of the struggles of last year, I would like to encourage you to work at changing the trepidation into hope…even considering all that has happened in 2020.
So how can one look forward in hope when this last year has been such a challenge.
I would like to suggest we take a hint from Jeremiah, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:19-23).
We will find hope when we begin by remembering God’s love, faithfulness, mercy, and compassion.
God is constantly calling His children to remember: the Israelites were given Passover to remember escape from captivity, Joshua was instructed to build an altar to remember God’s faithfulness in bringing the Israelites into the promised land, and Jesus gave us communion to help us remember all He did for us on Calvary.
As we look forward into the new year, we need to remember all the ways God has shown Himself faithful in this last year – even in the times of severe testing.
Choosing to have hope does not diminish the intense trials of 2020.
The physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial, educational challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020 have exhausted us.
We are weary.
Some of us have had our lives changed forever because of the loss of a loved one, a job, or a business, BUT even with all those demanding trials, God is still faithful!
He is still all-powerful! He is still majestic! He is still compassionate! He is still providing! He is still blessing!
Pause for a moment here and read Psalm 65.
This beautiful song of David’s reminds us that even amid the struggles and heartache God is still answering our prayers, still forgiving us, still calling us into His presence, still saving us, still giving us reasons for hope.
Verse 11 reminds us, “The LORD crowns the year with HIS goodness, and the LORD’s paths drip with abundance.”
So, I encourage you to take some time (either individually or as a family) to remember ways that God showed up in your life and blessed you with His lavish, abundant grace in 2020. When you make space for this time of remembering, you will be filled with praise for God’s faithfulness in the past as well as encouraged with hope for His faithfulness in the future.
Let us never forget that this God who remained constant and faithful during one of the most difficult times in our history, is the very same God who goes before you into the new year.
He will not change nor will His love and care for you falter.
So, as you move forward into 2021, do so with hope. Choose to not only remember God’s faithfulness in the past, but to also choose to focus on the “whatevers” (“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8) in the new year.
Then your mouth will be filled with praise as David’s was in Psalm 65.
Your heart will be filled with joy and your soul will know true peace. We may not know what the new year holds for us, but we are certain about who holds the new year and therefore we have hope.