Most of us are happily celebrating the closure of 2020, yet the question is, what if 2021 is actually worse? Sure, this last year held a ton of challenges, but there are many many ways in which this next year could prove even more discouraging, more dark, more depressing, more isolating, and far more fatal. While we hope this isn’t the case, what if it is?
What if COVID-19’s death toll is just getting started? What if a new Coronavirus strain started taking out the young and healthy at an incredible speed? What if numerous deadly natural disasters are on the dock? What if political issues became the least of our worries? What if Christians who’ve only known comfort started facing severe persecution? What if problems we’ve never dreamed of, become our new daily reality?
Of course, “what if” scenarios have no real value. However, it’s worth considering where we’re placing our hope. Because if it’s in the passing of 2020’s with all its problems, we may find ourselves sorely disappointed.
There is nothing about this life that promises comfort, health, or problem-free-ness. Ever since Genesis 3 (when sin entered the world) we’ve known to expect problems. Sin has made a mess, and 2021 is no different than any other year.
Not to mention, we should actually expect things to get uglier as Jesus’ return comes nearer (See 2 Timothy 3:13, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Peter 3:3, Matthew 24:6-8, etc.).
All that to say, our hope can not be in our circumstances. Maybe these next months will bring some calm, but maybe they won’t. And that is what we need to realize. There is no guarantee that life will get any better than it is, that is, until we are with Jesus.
Realigning Our Hope
It’s not bad to long for a problem-free life, in fact, it’s what we were made for. But we can’t expect that desire to be fulfilled quite yet. It will be one day, and that day is where we need to fix our gaze.
As Paul says in Colossians 3:2-4,
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
When we are finally with Jesus, appearing with him in glory, that is when we can confidently rejoice in a better future! That’s when we can look back on past years and say, “I’m so glad that’s over, time to move on to the better things ahead!”
If we know our deepest longings won’t be fulfilled until later, where does that leave us now? Are we bound to get sucked into the discouraging, dark, isolating realties of our world?
The same gracious God that provides the perfect existence we look forward to in eternity, is the One who will walk us through every day of every year we get.
So whether this year brings green pastures and still waters, or whether it takes us through the valley of the shadow of death — we can know that the Lord is our shepherd, he will restore our souls, and we should fear no evil (Psalm 23: 1-4).
He is where our hope lies. For 2021 and beyond, it’s our trust in God that allows us to move forward confidently, ready to take on whatever is to come, whether it be better times or not. It’s him, and only him that we can count on… for better or for worse.