To say that 2020 was a bit of a surprise is probably one of the biggest understatements in the world. Nobody expected to spend the majority of the year at home. Like many people, you maybe began the year with hopes and dreams, laughing and hugging loved ones whilst watching fireworks and sipping some bubbly. Some even said “2020 will be my year” and so on. It was a surprise for us all.
But before we cast it off completely, God has been at work. The wonderful news is that despite the many unknowns of 2021, there ARE things that we can be certain of…
A Year in which Jesus reigns
Despite all of the difficulties, the struggles and the pain of 2020, there has never been a single moment where Jesus was not in control. Do we always understand what is going on and how all things are working for good? No, but we are called to trust Him who is faithful. Governments may have power, and political leaders make decisions that effect our everyday lives, but their power is given to them from on high.
We don’t know exactly what 2021 will bring. More lockdowns? More news about COVID? More infections and more death? Maybe, we cannot be certain. But we can rest in the knowledge that nothing happens without the Lord being in control and reigning sovereignly over it all. I find this is as a huge source of encouragement because it means that I come to a God who knows all things, a God who sees all things and a God who draws near. We can be certain that 2021 is a year in which Jesus reigns.
A Year in which God will build His Church
I pastor in Edinburgh, Scotland. We went into lockdown in March 2020 and for a number of months were not able to have any meetings in person. As soon as we were able to we met in person in the church, complying with the governments guidelines on numbers of attendees and so on. In 2020 Churches all over the world took to the internet and tried their best to care for their sheep and to present the gospel to the world. The Church might have looked weak, unstable and maybe even injured. But that definitely is not the case.
2021 might be another year of restricted numbers, or maybe even a season of no physical meetings again. We don’t know. But what a joy it is to know that we come before a Holy God who has promised to build His church, to equip and enable His people for service and for the gospel to go forth! Though some church buildings may be empty, the Church is not. Though some churches might be struggling, the Church will die! Though some churches may be hurting, the Head of the Church will keep His people!
Despite the struggles of 2020, there were wonderful testimonies of people who returned to church, stories of people who remembered their faith that had gone cold and who have come home to the Saviour. 2021 will be no different. No lockdown can hinder the work of our Great Shepherd who continues to build, sustain and love His Church. We can be certain that 2021 is a year in which God will build His Church.
A Year in which the Holy Spirit will sanctify the Lord’s people
2020 brought many challenges. People were stuck indoors, for example. For some that wasn’t an issue, but for others it maybe brought their sin and temptations closer to home. People have struggled, maybe more than before, to follow the Lord’s command to be holy. It might not have been an outward sin, it might have been an attitude towards political leaders, maybe it was thoughts about others and their understanding of government regulations. Regardless, the truth is that we are all sinners who are in need of the power of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus every day.
The wonderful truth is that we can run to the Lord and in Him find the strength that we need to live a holy life. Through the power of the Spirit, in dependance on Christ and through the grace of God we can deny self and live for Christ. In our weakness and our failings we can trust in the Lord who has promised that He will sanctify His people.
We are not called to ‘fake it until you make it’. We are not called to put on a mask and pretend, or to hide away from our church family in shame at because of secret sins. We are called to put off the old self and to put on the new self. We are told to rely in dependance on the work of the Spirit who makes us more into the likeness of Jesus. We can be certain that 2021 is a year in which the Holy Spirit will sanctify the Lord’s people.
A Year in which sinners will be brought to salvation by God’s grace
Despite the struggles of 2020, there were wonderful testimonies of people who became Christians. There were countless Christians all over the world who continued their work of preaching the gospel in pulpits, on zoom, on street corners and in every day conversations. Publishers produced books and resources designed specifically for people to be able to share the gospel in a written, or audio, format. There were stories of people who saw an add on Facebook from a church and went along and by God’s grace, became Christians.
Maybe we’re not sharing the gospel like we would in any other year, maybe we’ve had to change our approach a little bit. But the reality is that the Lord continues to save people. Sinners are still hearing the gospel and the Lord is working miracles int heir hearts to bring life to the dead, to bring light to those in darkness. We serve a Saviour who works, a Saviour who lives and a Saviour who calls people to salvation in His name! COVID19 does not change that marvellous truth. We can be certain that 2021 is a year in which sinners will be brought to salvation by God’s grace.
Regardless of all the unknowns of 2021, remember the things that we can be certain of. Remember the Saviour that we serve, remember His Word, remember His faithfulness and glorify Him in all things for He is worthy!