As the year of our Lord 2020 draws to a close, many people are glad to see it passing into the rear-view mirror. "Good riddance. What a miserable year. Next year couldn't possibly be as bad as this one has been."
Or could it? We have no guarantee that 2021 will be any better than 2020, especially if we have failed to learn the lessons God has been trying to teach us. If we don't pay attention in God's school of life, we will have to repeat the class. There are some very significant things that have happened in the world this year that will have lasting ramifications: the COVID-19 virus itself, the response to COVID-19, societal turmoil, the Presidential election, etc., and the church's response to all of these things. Those things are all very important, but you and I can do very little about any of them. The really important questions we should ask ourselves are: How did I handle 2020? What have I learned? How have I changed? Have I grown closer to the Lord and His people or have I drifted further away? Have I grown less anxious or more fearful? Has my faith been shaken or strengthened by these trials? Did I use any of the events of 2020 as an excuse to fulfill my own selfish desires? Are there things I need to repent of?
These questions matter because they indicate the trajectory you are on and the kind of person you will be in 2021. Wherever you go, there you are.
Many sad and terrible things happened in 2020, but it would be a huge mistake to act as if all of that was somehow outside of God's plans and purposes. In fact, God gave us an incredible opportunity by writing us into the very unusual act of his great drama that we call 2020. And if the Lord wills it, we will all have a part to play in the next act called 2021. This will be God's gracious gift to us, but it must be received in faith with humility and gratitude. We can embrace the role God assigns to us and give it our best, or we can check out because we don't like the part. We can trust that the Playwright knows what He's doing, or we can grumble and complain about how we could've done it better.
We don't get to choose our parts, but we do get to choose how to play them. That choice will determine whether we look back a year from now and see 2021 as a tremendous blessing from God or the source of innumerable grievances. I pray that God will give us faith to choose wisely.