I normally find this time of year a helpful point to reflect on the year that has been and to think through the year ahead, but this year it’s harder.
Many people that I am meeting with, having had a break, still feel very tired. There is so much uncertainty about the next few months that it’s hard to start 2021 with the same vigour and vision, the same hopes and dreams, as we perhaps normally would.
Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica and he talks about his hopes and his dreams for them. As he comes to signing off the letter he reminds them that they are sons and daughters of light. He reminds them of their identity. It’s always good, as we start a new year, to be reminded of our true identity – that we are children of light.
From here, Paul lists the actions that flow out of our identity and sandwiched in-between this list of instructions is this beautiful command.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
As you think about the year ahead, these statements may seem pretty unrealistic! “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.”
Being honest, when Boris announced another lockdown, I really didn’t want to be joyful, prayerful or thankful. But I think Paul puts these three commands together because fundamentally he is calling us to keep perspective. He is calling us to continually be aware of God – when things are good and when things are tough.
In the year ahead…
We are not always going to be happy but we do have a depth of joy for what God has done for us. We need to keep that perspective.
We will experience times when prayer is hard but through persevering in talking and listening to God, we can know his perspective.
We are going to go through difficult times and we must be real. But with perspective, there is always something to be thankful for.
That phrase finishes, “…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God wants us to live in the reality of this bigger perspective. And it’s a daily choice.
However you are feeling as this new year starts, we would love to invite you to the 2021 Briefing which will be an opportunity to be encouraged by what God is doing!