The year 2020 was a pretty tough year for the whole world. The pandemic reached nearly every corner of the world and disrupted lives for 9 ½ months. Besides the pandemic, there were a lot of other things that made the year a challenging year, including a lot of political and racial divisiveness.
I read something somewhere that said, “I’m not only going to say good-bye to 2020, I’m saying “Good riddance!”
Many have commented about their hope that 2021 will be a better year. The hope is that in 2021 life can get back to some sense of normalcy and everything will open back up and people will start getting along better. There is hope that the tension in the world will settle down. No more lockdowns, masks, or social distancing. No more divisiveness and conflict. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
As much as we hope those things are true, I have also heard the naysayers and the doomsayers predict things are going to get a lot worse, a lot darker, and 2021 will be an even harder year than 2020. I am certainly no prophet able to predict one way or another. But I choose to be optimistic with the hope that life can get back to some kind of normalcy. Churches can resume normal ministry again. People can come out of lockdown and we can be back together again. It would be great to have businesses back to normal and travel restrictions lifted and to hold large gatherings again. I really miss seeing my family, my kids and grandkids. I want 2021 to be a good and happy new year!
But I have learned you can’t always count on life being hunky dory. Life can get hard whether it is through a pandemic, deep political divides, or something more personal like a health crisis or tragedy.
I enter 2021 with the same focus as I had in 2020 facing a cancer diagnosis. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) And, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 ) No matter the circumstances, Jesus is with us, and he is still faithful. He is still our rock that will stand firm no matter the storm. He is still our refuge when life throws all kinds of stuff at us. He is still our hope and our salvation and our eternal life. He is our peace.
When we focus our hope for the present as well as the future on Jesus, we will endure, yes, we will even thrive. Because Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. And that includes whatever 2021 has in store for us. Happy New Year! And may God bless you and your family in the coming year.
I leave you with this blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.