A year ago, I was vision-casting to our staff and our church about 2020 being a “year of hope!”
I knew my latest book, Uncommon Hope – The Path to an Epic Life was about to be released. (BTW, the audiobook just got released this past week. I love the narrator! Find it here on Amazon or search for it on Audible or iTunes.)
Without question, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected in life.
But if you had told me at Christmastime last year that 2020 would be a year of worldwide lockdowns, financial turmoil, and vast social and political unrest, I would have questioned your sanity.
Now I wish I’d bought stock in Zoom.
As it turns out, 2020 was indeed a year where we needed more hope (i.e., confident expectation in God’s power and presence), but it wasn’t what I envisioned.
Not even close.
A lot was taken from most of us during the past ten months of dealing with the coronavirus.
- The joy of seeing human smiles.
- The freedom to hug without hesitation or reservation.
- The delight of sitting at Starbucks or Red Robin with friends.
- The ability to gather and worship as we wish and when we desire.
Those are just a few things—there’s much more, but I’m trying not to focus on loss.
You see, there are some other things we can take away from this season. There are some lessons learned and precious values clarified.
- I will no longer take gathering with others for granted. Whether it’s for worship or fun, I have a far deeper appreciation for being with people I love. Real. Breathing. Humans.
- I learned (again) that my joy and hope are not based on my circumstances. God’s presence through this valley of the shadow of death has never been more tangible.
- I know, better than ever before, the power of a simple smile to bring encouragement to others.
- I was reminded of how my attitude and words affect not only my soul, but the lives of those in my sphere of influence.
- I discovered the world will always have enough toilet paper. 🙂
Those are some Covid takeaways for me that I pray are cemented in my heart and mind forever.
However, like many of you, I’m still concerned about what’s around the corner.
Control freaks and worry-warts (like me), try to plan everything, and pretend we are prepared for the unforeseen.
2020 made that reality painfully clear.
Only Jesus knows for sure what’s coming.
Maybe the old cliché is appropriate here: I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. (BTW, a cliché becomes a cliché for good reason—it’s truth.)
I have no idea.
So what will I do?
Hold onto hope, again.
In fact, hope is my do-over word for 2021 because the alternative—hopelessness—doesn’t work well for anyone.
The coming year may be better, or it may be worse. At this point, I’m uncertain about what to expect, but here’s what I do know: You and I are never alone.
Immanuel is still Immanuel no matter what.
May I pray for you?
Jesus, I ask you to hold my friends who have suffered so much this past year very close. For those who have given up, renew and restore them. For those who have lost so much, comfort them. For those who are overwhelmed by fear, let your peace flood into the darkest parts of their being. You and You alone are the answer to our worries, pain, and suffering. Make that truth our greatest certainty now and in the year to come. Amen.
And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10. (ESV)