New Year, Same God: The True Hope of 2021
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again… the beginning. A renewed sense of hope abounds in our hearts. Resolutions have been made, goals have been set, and anything seems possible as we cling to the hope that “maybe this year will finally be the year that I…” (fill in the blank).
And yet, as nice as the collective optimism feels after the year we’ve had, a year from now, we’ll likely have new hopes that we think maybe 2022 will fulfill.
Don’t get me wrong – 2020 was a particularly challenging year, overshadowed by the outbreak of a global pandemic, political division, and racial unrest. We are certainly right to hope and pray that 2021 will usher in new unity and peace, and perhaps it will. But pinning all our hopes on the flipping of a calendar page may prove disappointing when we inevitably experience setbacks and disappointments throughout the year.
The truth is, the Bible assures us that we will experience suffering in this life. The book of Ecclesiastes, for example, paints a seemingly bleak picture of life “under the sun,” pointing to things like oppression and hardship that mark the human life. Peter, likewise, tells us to “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” And in John 16:33, Jesus himself tells his followers that “in the world you will have tribulation.”
But don’t be discouraged! Jesus doesn’t stop there.
“But take heart,” he continues. “I have overcome the world.”
What good news. Jesus tells us that what we really need in the midst of an ever-changing world is hope in a never-changing God – a God who doesn’t promise a year free of trouble, but does promise to be with us and for us in the midst of it.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).
Indeed, Jesus, and not this new year, is our true hope.
As we head into 2021, instead of setting all our hopes on improved circumstances let’s put our hope in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. Let’s set our hearts and minds on him, knowing that though the new year may bring new troubles, it will also bring new depths of peace in the arms of our Almighty Father. Let’s embrace this new year with neither naive optimism nor fear and trembling, but with confidence in our sovereign and trustworthy God.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
About the Author
Jo Wilbur is a Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Purcellville and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.