We hope that 2021 is better... but what if it isn't?
As the clock enters 11:59pm on December 31, 2020, the world's heart beats with anticipation. A tumultuous year for many is just about to come to a close. 10, 9, 8...
3, 2, 1... HAPPY NEW YEAR! As we celebrate the entrance of a New Year our hearts leap for joy as well as shutter in hopeful anticipation of a better year. Many, although they may never admit it, operate on some level of superstition in efforts to not bring on a #repeat of 2020. With my kids being young, we celebrated the New Year at 8pm by watching a YouTube recording of the 2019 ball drop... NOT 2020. But regardless of what we do, there is one thing that is for certain... we can't control what 2021 brings.
Wow! I thought this was supposed to be a blog of "hope'?! It is, so allow me to explain my statement. While the phrase, "if you want to make the world a better place, start with yourself" is true in a sense, changing yourself isn't going to change the world. Look at what made 2020 so tough:
2. Unprecedented amount of hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires.
3. Racial Tension
4. Locust Invasions
5. Murder Hornets
...and much more!
None of those things above, other than the unfortunate racial tension and the spread of COVID-19, can be controlled by the actions of individuals. Most of what we endured in 2020 are considered "acts of God". So how can we be encouraged as we enter a new year?
Two words: God's Sovereignty.
The sovereignty of God means that God has the full and complete rule over all of his creation. To put it bluntly, there is nothing that occurs in this world without first passing through the hands of God. Does that mean that God causes evil? No, this would be an attack on the holiness of God. God allows things to happen that correspond with His sovereign plan.
For example, since we are on the tale of Christmas, let's revert back to the Christmas story. It was prophesied in the book of Malachi that Someone great would come out of the little town of Bethlehem. As we fast forward to Mary and Joseph, Mary and Joseph made the 70 mile trek to Bethlehem to fulfill a required census from the government. As we know, this is where Jesus was born. Bottom line, within God's sovereign rule, he used the government to fulfill Biblical prophecy regarding the Messiah's birth.
As we ponder 2020 and look toward 2021, we can be encouraged in the fact that everything that occurred in 2020 was all part of God's sovereign and divine plan. If you read the book of Revelation, you will notice that God's plan for the world has not been completed, and so everything that occurred in 2020 is ultimately corresponding to God's overall plan for the world. It's tough as Christians to see the big picture because we are "living in the moment". (I'm sure the Jews felt this way in the O.T. as they anticipated the arrival of the Messiah).
As people, we need "let go and let God" in 2021. I don't say that flippantly. Why do we get so unsettled? Because we are too busy trying to control things that we can't control. Majority of the events that transpired in 2020 were out of our control, so worrying about it isn't going to change the situation.
Sure, we hope that 2021 is better than 2020, but it may not be. But our level of faith out to be the same level that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed before King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 3, the three men stood before the King getting ready to receive their punishment for not bowing down to the false idol. The punishment for such a "heinous" crime was being burned alive in the fiery furnace. As King Nebuchadnezzar furiously questioned the men regarding the power of the God they served in relation to their upcoming punishment, the three men responded: If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if He does not...
...let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods nor worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Bottom line, these three men had faith in not only the power of God, but also in the sovereignty of God. They recognized that God had the power to save them, but that it may not be God's divine plan for them. These men committed to trust God, no matter the outcome.
As we enter 2021, we hope for a better year. But that may not be a part of God's Sovereign plan. May our prayer this year not be "God, give us a better year" but... "God, even if 2021 is no better than 2020, let me trust in you with an unwavering trust".
Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021