The last few days of 2020 passed very quickly and the memories of the holidays faded out as the curtain closed on the year. My thoughts now begin to run haphazardly and I am left thinking that 2020 was a cruel joke. The hopes and dreams that lived in my heart as the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, somehow were crushed before they had a chance to take flight. Today I am asking myself and all of you, “is it possible to have hope and joy in 2021?”
Reflection is good for the soul. As we leave one year and begin another, let’s reflect together on hope and joy. Let’s take what we know and all we learned and carry it forward into the new year. Let’s never take for granted the gifts God leaves in the hard and the holy.
2020 at a Glance
I considered writing a month by month summary of 2020 but stopped when I realized that I, myself, didn’t want some of the reminders of 2020 staring at me from the page. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that we made it through last year and there is so much more to look forward to.
I imagine we all can agree that what we hoped for as last year began, somehow bottomed out as soon as the month of March arrived. I was hoping for the chance to travel as well as time with my siblings and families. It seems that hope was lost if I base it on those two things alone.
It is easy to give up when suffering from months and months of uncertainty, isolation, and tension cloud our vision. But I am the person who does not let herself remain in “that place” too long. Yes, it was hard. March through May left me weary and panting for change–any kind of change. Then, just as quickly as the lights dimmed, brightness began to return. What was lost was not gone. God redeemed my lowest moments and deepest heartaches. He graciously does the same for you, too.
Did you find hope and joy in 2020?
The question I began to ask myself and I pray you take time to ask also, is “Did you find hope and joy in 2020?” Did you glimpse God’s glory in the hard? Was there a moment when laughter filled the air rather than lament?
I can safely answer “yes” to each of these questions. Can you? Go ahead, take a minute and remember. The gentle shift from mourning to dancing for me began in June. The sun was a little brighter, my kids and I began to gather every Saturday just to “be” with each other. Time together was exactly what we needed. The day I woke up with a smile on my face was the day I knew I was going to be okay. Hope and joy slipped in the back door when I wasn’t looking and filled the space that was previously lacking.
The exact moment I felt more joy than grief is forgotten. What is encouraging is the memory of hope and the smile on my face. So, let me ask you again. “Did you find hope and joy in 2020?”
Let’s move forward into believing that 2021 contains promise, but more importantly that hope and joy are waiting for you and me.
What steps can we take?
We are now several weeks into the new year. Lots has taken place in our country and maybe the same can be said about where you live and who you hang out with. I have already felt a deep oppression and tension from the reactions to events that I had no control over. My mantra is to not let hopelessness settle into the fabric of my being. Or to let the loss of what once was overtake what God still has in store for me. Do you feel the same way?
If loss sums up 2020, let’s grab hope to carry us forward through 2021.
If despair, depression, oppression, (you pick your word) overwhelmed your days and nights last year, let’s choose joy to filter through the ugliness and hopelessness.
When dissension and tension filled your newsfeed and fed your anxiety, let’s trust and know that love always makes a difference.2021 is just a year with days, weeks, months. Will you claim hope and joy in this new year? #newpost #hopeandjoy Click To Tweet
God is who He says He is and He remains victorious through the sacrifice of His one and only son, Jesus. 2021 is just a year filled with days, weeks, and months. You can claim the hope and joy of our Savior or the untruths the world tends to feed you. The choice is yours. I am choosing hope and joy this year. How about you?
*** Hi friends! I am so glad to be back in this space. I took an extended break after launching my book, The Advent Narrative: The Life You Didn’t Know You Were Already Living, in November. It was needed and God knew that. I missed writing so here I am.
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This is very weird, Mary, but I just submitted a comment to you and it is nowhere to be found—just like what happened with you at my blog. Now to remember what I said the first I’ve … I’ve missed you and were glad to read your words again. I love what you you said about how “2021 is just a year filled with days, weeks and months.” I’m choosing joy and hope with you this year, my friend … one of those days at a time!
I’m sorry that happened to you, too. I found your first comment in my spam. It is there and thank you for coming back and trying again.
I’m thrilled that you are choosing joy and hope this year, too. I have no doubt we will fall under the weight of what we are dealt this year at some point, but God will pull us though.
Mary, I went through some low moments in 2020. Most of us did. My lowest point was in the spring too. It showed up mostly in my running. I began to get anxiety attacks when I ran. I also had trouble sleeping. The summer brought some improvement and by late autumn, I felt like I was back to something approaching normal. One of the things that really helped was when a fellow blogger suggested I pray for people who popped into my mind during my sleepless hours. Taking the focus off of ME and focusing on my conversation with God helped immensely. It is so good to hear from you again!
Your fellow blogger is wise to suggest praying during sleepless nights. I have adopted the same practice and know how comforting it can be to shine the light on someone else. It’s hard to know how our bodies and minds will react when we are faced with so much uncertainty. I hate knowing you were experiencing anxiety attacks, but thankful that you are doing so much better.
Welcome back Mary! I loved your following statement,
“God is who He says He is and He remains victorious through the sacrifice of His one and only son, Jesus. 2021 is just a year filled with days, weeks, and months. You can claim the hope and joy of our Savior or the untruths the world tends to feed you. The choice is yours. I am choosing hope and joy this year. How about you?”
I’m choosing Joy for 2021 as I did in 2020, for His Joy is my strength & His strength is my Joy!
You’re always welcome to join me in a cuppa,
When I wrote those words you highlighted, I knew that God wanted me to answer His call to live forward rather than looking back. Even if this year still does not look like we hope, we can hold onto the truth of who God is and what He promises us. I am glad you are choosing joy. We will see the fruit of choosing joy and hope in this new year.
Absolutely Mary! 😀
I’m not surprised to see that your first post of 2021 was about JOY, Mary. One of the keys to joy is gratitude and we can always find something to be grateful for when we live in close fellowship with our heavenly Father. 2021 may be a year of redeeming what 2020 took from us, or it may be another year of loss, either way, whatever is taken WILL eventually be redeemed. God will do it, just as He said He would. Blessings on your week, friend!
God will eventually redeem and whether that is this year or several years down the road, we can rest assured that He is faithful. Joy not only sounds good to say, it provides a perspective that can lead us through challenging times. I turned a corner in 2020 and knew that God was ready for me to pull myself out of my slump and remember that He is the Provider of Joy and Hope. It’s so good to see you here, June!
I woke up feeling weary today and your post has renewed hope in my heart. Happy New Year Mary
I’m glad to hear that my words sent some refreshment your way. Happy New Year to you, too.
Mary! I’ve missed you! I’m so glad you’re back. Hope and joy are good things to hang onto. Last year was a time of disappointment but also of accomplishment and of seeing God show up in my days time and again. It was painful at times, and hard, as we walked through the isolation struggles with one of our sons, but God was still with us. I find great peace in His word and His promises. I’ll be clinging to those this year, and I’ll be looking for glimpses of His fingerprints on my days.
This is beautiful Jeanne. I think it’s important to recognize how hard last year was but also to see how God was faithful. I am standing with you in taking time to find God in the ordinary moments of our days. Here’s to a new year of hope and joy.
Mary so glad to see you again and that you started getting together with your kids again. Oh, how family brings joy.
Loved your questions: ““Did you find hope and joy in 2020?” Did you glimpse God’s glory in the hard? Was there a moment when laughter filled the air rather than lament?” And the answer is yes. I did. I figured out that for quite awhile I was holding my breath and gritting my teeth waiting for things to return to normal. Which was delaying my joy and making it based upon my circumstances. So I started looking for joy each day, and found a lot. I started laughing each day, and trying to make my husband laugh (which I was able to do), and I started looking for God. And He was there too. Hope and joy are there, such gifts from God.
I am loving spending time with my kids and grandson. It is what brings me joy. I had many months where I was also holding my breath last year. God has a way of setting us straight when we let him. It sounds like He did that for you and me. Thanks for stopping by!
A few years ago, I went on a quest, asking older women in the church, “How do you live Joy when those you love stuffer?” Joy, one lady told me, was that despite the heart hurts, we need to trust that God will give more than Satan has taken – give us, give those we love. God gives us permission to live joy – and it starts by rejoicing, remembering what He’s done – and it’s a choice – and, as we saw this past year, a hard choice. So many times I have to get out of my head and just look to God – and Remember! I’m glad I sought out that answer before 2020!
There is so much we can learn from those who have more life experience. I also am the person who gets stuck in her head. It’s not the best place to be. Thank you for sharing what you learned about joy. It’s good to see you here, Maryleigh.
Lovely to see you writing here again, Mary! There were definitely little moments of hope and joy in the challenges of 2020 but I’m hopeful that 2021 will be better!
Thanks, Lesley! It is so important to recognize the good and the moments of hope. I am praying that 2021 is better for everyone, too.
Thank you, Mary, lovely thoughts. Sometimes we sum up an entire year by the hardships, forgetting the moments that fed our souls. Couldn’t agree more, 2021is just a year with days, weeks and months, we can choose how we move forward. By the way, my word for 2021 is Joy!!
I love that your one word is joy. What a perfect word to carry you through this new year. I agree that focusing on the hard instead of remembering the good moments leads us away from where we should be. Thank you for stopping by.
Yes, Mary! Jesus was and is where I find my Hope! Without Him, I’d be a basketcase! Thanks for this encouraging word and I hope 2021 holds even more hope-filled and meaningful times for you and your family! No pandemic can keep us, grandmas, down for long! 😉
Grandmas are a tough group for sure. I am praying for hope-infused memories and lots of family time for all of us. It’s good to see you here, Beth.
I missed you, Mary! This is a beautiful and encouraging post. Yes!, no matter how hard the days may be, may we remember to hold onto the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Earlier this morning I read Romans 15:13 and Romans 12:12 – they fit together like a pair of mittens 🙂 May we remain devoted to prayer so that we rejoice in hope and persevere in all things.
Hi Joanne! It feels like it has been such a long time since I was here. I have missed writing and the people who are so dear. Romans 15:13 is the perfect complement for hope and Romans 12:12 leads us to joy. I am praying with you that as a people we continue to look for hope and joy rather than falling into the trap of complaining.
I’ve missed you … God has kept you on my heart and I thought you might be recovering from birthing the book!
I’m continuing to be amazed at how loss and peace, sadness and joy and other seemingly opposite realities can co-mingle. While our very real emotions are all over the map, we are still able to trust in the One who loves us deeply.
Thank God He’s never left us for one single moment! And He’s not going anywhere.
What solace, what hope!
I’ve missed you, too. You are correct in the fact I was recovering from birthing my Advent book. Have you read it yet???
God’s presence is what keeps me going. It is also knowing that He is in the hard and the easy, the despair and hope, and joy and sorrow. It is so beautiful to think about, isn’t it? I hope you are doing well, Linda!
I am planning on buying 2 copies for a friend and me to work through next December!
That sounds lovely. Thank you.
Smiled big when I saw your name in my inbox this morning.
Off to face eleven pairs of snowpants today as a sub in a preschool classroom.
Blessings to you on this new-every-morning opportunity to soak in grace for whatever the day dishes.
I smiled big when I went over to your place. I have missed being here and there. Have fun subbing today. Those little ones will be glad to have you.