“2020 was the worst, I’m so glad it’s over.”
We’ve all heard this sentiment in one way, shape or form over the past several months. It’s even likely each of us have launched into some cathartic 2020 venting at some point as well. While mostly harmless, there’s a danger lurking beneath that mindset that could cause 2021 to leave us pining for the good old days of 2020.
A global pandemic, government restrictions and lockdowns, a contentious election, and a divided culture are just some of the numerous events spurring millions of Americans eager to toss 2020 deep into the ocean and leave it all behind for good.
The restrictions from the pandemic, in particular, provide validation to the anger.
Too many Americans were forced to watch helplessly from afar as loved ones perished and livelihoods were lost while witnessing politicians make exception after exception for themselves and those who rioted across the country, burning buildings and looting stores.
Too many small business owners were forced to close up shop for good following government restrictions that often lacked scientific justification and appeared mostly motivated by political self-preservation focused on proving the appearance that they “did something” to help quell the spread of COVID-19.
Adding fuel to that fire was a contested presidential election in a nation so far apart ideologically that there are no longer opposite sides of the aisle, but opposite sides of the galaxy. Add social media into the mix, contributing a steady stream of logically challenged and emotionally charged rhetoric, and a media constantly adding fuel to the fire with remarkable bias, it’s train wreck city.
2020 provided enough fodder for not just a book, but an encyclopedia. If you’re planning to simply close your eyes at 11:59pm on December 31st and re-open them when the ball drops, hoping to awaken into the blissful utopia that is 2021 – I have some bad news.
That isn’t happening.
Most of the same problems we’re facing today will still exist come January 1st. The vaccine is here, that’s good news. But politicians have signaled —mostly absent meaningful scientific evidence — that COVID-related restrictions will continue. We’ll still be divided politically. Social media will still be a cesspool of vapid, uninformed and over-confident posts. And, yes, the mainstream media will still be biased.
As Christians, what kind of posture should we take heading into 2021? What kind of message will we carry regarding 2020?
God doesn’t take years off. 2020 was not an accident. He is sovereign over ALL things. The good years and the bad. And, if we’re keeping score, compared to some of the more trying years in human history, 2020 probably wouldn’t even crack the top ten.
I’m afraid we’ve grown so accustomed to being comfortable, we’re unable to even look for the positives in a challenging year.
In order to know what our posture should be, we have to know what our main purpose is as Christians: Glorifying God, sharing the Good News of Jesus, and helping others in His name should be top among our priorities.
Through that lens, 2020 provided plenty of opportunities to shine a light on Christ. It provided plenty of opportunities to make His name great.
As it is written in James:
Consider it joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4
While it is understandable to vent about a difficult year, we cannot be overcome by that mindset. If we are, we risk falling into a pattern of bitterness. We risk missing chances to give God glory. We miss chances to show the love of Christ.
And if we make a habit of missing those chances, I can assure you 2021 will be just as “tough” a year as 2020, if not tougher.
Let’s remember who we are and who created us. Let’s remember our purpose as Christians and vow to praise and serve and follow him no matter what comes our way in the next 12 months.