2020 — a year that will forever live in infamy for many people across the globe. When you think of 2020, what comes to mind? Scrambling for toilet paper? Perhaps mounds upon mounds of sourdough or other baked goods made in quarantine? No matter what we remember from last year, our memories often contain thoughts of pain, loss, and hardships.
Now let’s look forward to 2021. What comes to mind? Hope for relief from a pandemic? Maybe finally getting to take that vacation … or anything other than being stuck at home. What causes such disdain for a calendar year? And what gives us hope for the future? It’s all a matter of perspective.
As Christians, we are called to choose joy. To be thankful for the blessings that God has given us.
However, far too often we choose to dwell on the bad, the challenges, and the trials and allow them to frame the way we see our world. Instead of thankfulness, we have disdain and longing for something we can’t have. Instead of joy and peace, we feel upset and angry at a year wasted.
Here is the tough reality we as Christians need to accept: No matter the challenge, no matter the obstacle, no matter the suffering, God is sovereign and in control. We are blessed beyond belief. The apartment walls that you feel are confining you would be a welcome blessing to those without a home. The family members driving you crazy are also making memories with you that will last.
I am not calling you to give away all you have to find joy. But I am reminding you to find joy in all circumstances. If we follow what the world is putting out and choose to dwell on the bad and the ugly things that have transpired in life, we will feel despair and discontentment. Scripture provides several examples of choosing joy, the most striking being the example our Lord and Savior set for us.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
If we as Christians forget where our joy comes from and choose to live in the misery of the world, 2021 will be a worse year than its predecessor. But if we choose the joy that stems from being saved through Jesus Christ, we will be able to overcome any obstacle with a smile on our face because of a heavenly Father who loves us.