My wife and I have not once felt inclined to say ‘next year will be better'.
By Ian Goodson
Do you feel nervous as you think ahead to 2021? Are you sick of 2020 and ‘touching wood’ that 2021 will be better?
This year has taught me (again) that life can be very hard, and yet followers of Christ Jesus can have genuine peace.
I’d like to suggest that Christianity offers you the best way to face the uncertainties of the next twelve months.
2020 has been a tough year for my family. My eldest son had brain surgery and my father-in-law had a stroke (April) and then died (September). All this against the backdrop of my wife and I both in work (no furlough for us), homeschooling three primary children, raising a one year old, and caring for a church family also struggling with a pandemic (who also showed us a lot of care).
It was, at times, immensely stressful.
Trouble is, there are no guarantees 2021 will be any better. The reality is that something worse than a pandemic could come along.
I sincerely hope 2021 will be better for you, and for me! Probably on a national level it will. But for some people in Wakefield 2021 will be a much worse year than this.
But here’s the thing: Through all our trials this year, my wife and I have not once felt inclined to say ‘next year will be better’.
We are, you see, realists. We can have no faith that 2021 will be better. We know there’s no certainty about that. We're living in the real world.
Sometimes Christians are said to be people of ‘blind faith’, that there is no evidence for Christian beliefs. Surprising, then, that so many people put their faith in the belief that next year will be better.
The Christian faith is rather based on evidence. Christians know that God has given over to death his only, eternal Son, Jesus Christ, to give us forgiveness and eternal life. And God has raised Jesus from the dead, which gives us certainty he can be trusted.
Since God has done that for us we are left with little room for worry. We know God is completely committed to our good, even when things are hard. That's a great thing to know.
None of us have a real idea what the future exactly holds. Huge unemployment? Economic recovery? An even worse strain of the virus? Normality by the summer? A war? We’ve no idea.
But Christians do know, personally, the God who rules over the years and the centuries: the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they know he is committed to their good.
Last night, at our church family prayer meeting, we took time to give thanks for 2020, rather than wish it were kicked into touch as quickly as possible.
Here are a few of the things we came up with to thank God for:
Our Sunday school staff and the online ‘Zoom Kids’
That schools could re-start, and for the staff
Support bubbles for people living alone
New people around Grace Church Wakefield exploring the Christian faith
Being able to meet in person again
Covid has not spread as a result of Covid Secure church meetings
Holidays that people have been able to go on
Anticipation of heaven!
Singing together outside recently
Faithful gospel preaching in our church
Carol service and other Christmas events
For people who have persevered with technology (even when they don’t like it!)
God's great love for us
I wonder what we’ll be able to give thanks for this time next year?
God alone knows.
And take it from me: that’s a wonderful thing to know at the end of 2020.
Ian serves as Pastor of Grace Church Wakefield. Married to Lydia, they have four young children and enjoy living in the Lupset/Flanshaw area of town. They would love to welcome you to investigate Christianity at GCW. The blurry photo above is of their son returning from hospital post brain surgery.