It’s just after Christmas, and the new year is rolling this way fast! And, for most people it can’t come soon enough.
The desire to leave 2020 in the past and move on to a new year is a common sentiment and I completely understand!
But, let me caution each and every one of us before we put our hopes on the flip of a calendar page.
One thing I’ve learned this last year pastoring a congregation through a year like 2020 is that mental health is a struggle when the world is in chaos. As a church we even spent a few weeks of 2020 teaching from the book of Philippians under a series titled “Headspace.”
While studying for that series I discovered that people much smarter than me say the key to mental health was having something to look forward to. Or, put another way, we have more spiritual and mental endurance when there is something good out there that we expect will come our way.
This may be why you’ve noticed that annually December and January are times we lose so many loved ones. Why? Because people who physically struggle literally will themselves strength and purpose seeking one more year with the family at the holidays.
But, when that celebration season is over… there’s a struggle to find something to look forward to and the struggle begins.
That’s my fear for all of us who are going to ‘just get passed the holidays’ and into 2021. We have so demonized the calendar date of 2020 that we have convinced ourselves as soon as it’s 2021 things will be better!
Let me remind you: viruses, economics, politics and people seldom change because the calendar page turned over.
If you combine the normal after Christmas blues with an over expectation of January 2021, we could be set up for some very real disappointment.
For us to keep our head in 2021 we’re going to have to have something more substantial to look forward to than a new date on the calendar.
We need to find something to look forward to that is worthy of our expectation.
First Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
“A living hope”… for us to understand what that means we have to understand what the Bible means when it uses the word hope. In our culture and language hope is a statement of desire on par with a “wish.“
For us to say we hope for something means that we wish it would happen even if we don’t really believe that it will, or see a reason that it would.
But, biblically the word hope is often translated as “expectation”. And that word is absolutely pregnant with potential!
When you see the word hope in the Bible it doesn’t mean wish, it means that we posses real expectation, believing what God has said will come about and standing in the confidence that at any moment we can find the fulfillment of His promises.
So, that is why we can actually have a “living hope“ in Jesus Christ. When you place your mental health, your faith, your expectation on anything else… eventually it will disappoint.
But, when you place your eager expectation, the longings of your heart, and the “hope“ of your life on Jesus we have an expectation that is real and a confidence that does not come and go with the seasons.
My prayer for us all is that 2021 will be a better year than 2020.
But the truth is, it does not matter what comes at us, if Jesus in us is where we place our hope.
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” - 1 John 4:4
Monday, December 28, 2020
This should be a short author profile.