“Is this year over yet?” “Come on, 2021!” “I can’t wait to put 2020 behind us.”
Chances are, you’ve been hearing (or saying) some version of the statements above for a while now. The start of a new year is frequently a motivator for us to leave behind the things that aren’t good for us and to have a fresh start at seeking the things that are. This feels extra true as we look ahead to 2021. A pandemic that seems never-ending, growing awareness of systemic injustice, and heightened political tension have combined to create one of the most collectively challenging years the majority of us have ever experienced. But let’s not give in to the temptation of believing that a new year will be the answer to all our problems. There’s a better way to find hope.
Political unity, a COVID-19 vaccine, and routines that are back to “normal” are all good things to hope for, but they shouldn’t be what we’re ultimately putting our hope in. Leaving 2020 behind us doesn’t get to the root of the issue. We’re longing to be free of the brokenness in and around us that this year has made painfully apparent—our physically weak and vulnerable bodies, lack of justice, political division, grief, and mental health struggles are just a few examples.
At the beginning of this year, God challenged me to put my trust in Him more completely—probably because my tendency is to try to control my situations and environment and to plan as thoroughly as possible for the future. I really don’t like not knowing what’s coming. And one of my all-time greatest fears? A global pandemic.
But COVID-19, along with every other thing that has happened this year, has not caught God by surprise. God doesn’t desire for us to experience pain and suffering, but He does have a plan for using tough circumstances for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). In fact, God has used all the curveballs 2020 has thrown at us to remind me that putting my trust in Him isn’t a one-time occurrence but a daily act of faith. He’s stripped me of the control I long for but has given me something much better: peace in knowing that He’s still good and He’s making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
The Bible also tells us that this world is not our home (Hebrews 13:14). We’re foreigners here, and we’re called to build God’s Kingdom on earth until Jesus returns. When we remember this truth, we can be a light in the darkness of the pain all around us and avoid falling back into routines that lead to complacency.
Here are a few practical ways we can look to Jesus to find hope:
- Prioritize reading and meditating on Scripture. Spending time in God’s Word each day directs our focus to God’s truth and promises.
- Limit exposure to news and social media. While it’s good to be informed, constant exposure to seemingly endless information can be unhealthy. You might be surprised at how refreshing it is to take a 24-hour break from the noise!
- Remember how God has provided for you in the past. Reflecting on how God has worked in your own life reminds us of His power and goodness, and it gives us hope that He’ll continue to work on our behalf in the future.
- Praise God for who He is. Worshiping God for His holiness, grace, omnipotence, and love helps us to have a heavenly perspective.
The reality is we have no idea what this year holds. But we do know what the future ultimately holds, and that’s where we find hope.