2020 has been quite a year. January 1, 2021, may be the most anticipated New Year’s Day since Y2K. Many of us are just so ready for this long year to end. We want to put the stress and the struggle behind us and start over on January 1. As relatable as this feeling may be, though, it doesn’t support the gratitude we should be giving to God for the opportunities and growth we have had this year. But how can you even begin to feel grateful for a year that seems like nothing but hard times?
Make the Choice to Be Grateful During the Hard Times
Gratitude is a choice. It’s the choice to accept what you have been given as an opportunity from God. Though all year you may have been struggling with financial insecurity, grief, suffering, stress, and fear, God has meant this time for your growth so you might learn to trust in Him no matter the circumstance. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). You can go through this valley with confidence, knowing that your Comforter will be with you. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Let Christ Carry the Weight of the World
Technology and social media usage are constantly increasing in our world. As they do, we are going to be more aware of the struggles and trials of people we’ve never met. Most of these people we never will meet. Through social media and news reports, you may inadvertently take up the burden of grief of a young family, half a world away, who has just lost their father or mother. And it is right and good that we should empathize with their pain and lift them up in prayer. After all, we should “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).
But only Christ could carry the weight of the grief and sin of the whole world alone. You weren’t meant for that. When the sins of the world and the grief and sorrow of pain and loss would overcome you, step away from social media. Step away from the news. And most importantly, pray and give it all over to God.
Count Your Blessings
When you are at your lowest, that’s when you need to remember the blessings God has given you the most. A new child born, a homeschool win, answered prayers, a friend or loved one who’s showered you with love and support—these are the daily reminders God has given us of His grace and love. If you have been working on a thankfulness project this year, now is an excellent time to use it. You can look back on the blessings from this year to remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
For all we hope that 2021 will be a year of reprieve, we can’t know what will come next. The faith in God you are developing now will be necessary to weather the storms you may face next year. So in the last few weeks of 2020, cling to God’s promises, and thank Him for the opportunities to grow this year.