What can be said about 2021 that has not already been said? It was a hard year for many. The continuing pandemic, polarization in society, rising costs of all of life’s essentials, sad truths about our history coming to light, oppressive regimes on the rise in various places around the globe. . . we’re tired. Many people are struggling.
Each year, it seems, we pause on December 31 to look around and take stock. We think through the past year: the blessings, challenges, and changes it brought. It seems like no matter how the past year played out—whether it brought joyous changes or sad difficulties and loss—we dare to hope for better things in the new year.
In some ways, it feels like a silly hope. The change from one year to another is, in many ways, just another change from one day to another. Just a new calendar hung on the same nail on the same wall. Yet we recognize that it’s significant too. A new year feels like a new beginning. We pack away the mementos of last year and think, “That’s done. That’s behind me.”
We wonder at what will fill the new box in the coming year. It's almost as if we can't help but hope. We have little reason to think that things will get better, but hope rises in spite of our efforts to be practical and logical.
I think this sense of hope and new beginnings is deeply planted in us by God, who tells us in Revelation (and in a sense, throughout the entire Bible) that He is making all things new. We feel that the world is broken and our efforts to mend it are flawed and failing, and yet we keep hoping. We continue making the effort, we look for leaders who will change things, we make plans and commitments to better things. We can’t help ourselves.
Did you catch that? We can’t help ourselves.
But God can. We serve and worship and walk with a God who makes things new. A new year makes me think of the moment in the C.S. Lewis book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Mr. Beaver is telling the four Pevensie children about Aslan, the rightful and good ruler of Narnia, who is reported to be on the move again after a (seemingly) long absence. Lucy, we’re told, “got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”
We get tastes of new beginnings as we journey through life. We recognize the hope Lucy felt at the mention of Aslan, and we feel it too.
I’d encourage you to embrace that hope, and draw energy from it as you continue the journey. And know that our deepest hope will be realized one day when God completes His work of making everything new, and we are welcomed to the place He has prepared for us, where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21: 4)
Until then, blessings to you for all of life’s new beginnings.