I hardly ever buy new Christmas decorations. You know why. I have too many boxes of them in my basement already. But this year I did buy one new decoration for myself. I hadn’t planned on buying anything new, but . . . it happened when I was out shopping for gifts for others. (I confess – that seems to be how it usually happens, I go out to purchase a gift for someone else and come home having purchased something for myself)
So that’s how I ended up with my “word for the year”. I’ve never had one before ( a word, that is) but I have a friend who chooses for herself a “word for the year” each new year. This word is to reflect what she wants to be her focus in the coming year. This word serves to remind her of her commitment to be intentional each day about living out whatever her particular “word for the year” happens to be.
So I never planned on buying a new Christmas decoration. And I hadn’t given any thought to picking out a “word for the year” for myself. Yet, here I am today, living in that limbo land of days which fall after Christmas day but before New Year’s day, and I have accomplished both things. I have my new decoration and I, for the first time ever, have my own “word for the year”.
Both events occurred simultaneously for me, because my “word” is written in large letters on my new Christmas decoration. I have it currently displayed in my home’s entry way, so anyone who enters encounters my new “word for the year” immediately. (not that anyone has been entering my home, but if they did, they would know my new word)
My word for 2021 is “HOPE”. I don’t know that I chose it so much as it chose me. There were many wooden decorations with snowflakes and various words on them on the shelf that day, but only one with the word HOPE. When I saw it, I knew, that was the word I needed most for 2021.
Suspended in time between Christ’s first Advent and His second coming as we are, I think HOPE is what sustains us during this time in history. Hope has been my constant companion throughout 2020 – hope in God, in His promises and in His plan. Romans 8:21-25 talks about this hope saying that we wait,
“in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Patiently waiting? I feel like I have spent most of 2020 waiting and hoping and being disappointed and waiting some more (with hope) and being disappointed again and waiting again . . . I’m sure you know the drill, dear readers, because you have been on the same treadmill yourselves. The finish line has been moved so many times, I don’t even know if a finish line exists currently. Each promised finish line was hope, such as a reopen date for schools. Your finish line may have been different, such as a church, an office or a gym opening back up, or getting to see a loved one at last, or being able to take a postponed trip or plan a wedding. All involve hope, hope for something we don’t yet have but hope for the possibility of what we desire, sustaining us until it should become reality.
Most of us would say that 2020 has brought us some degree of suffering. We all have experienced loss on many levels this year, some much greater losses than others. Romans 5:3-5 talks about the connection between suffering and hope, (maybe why HOPE is my word of choice for this next year, because it follows a year of such suffering)
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
My hope comes from God. My hope is in God. 1 Timothy 4:9-10 reminds me,
“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;” (Lamentations 3:25)
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6)
My Heavenly Father is the supplier of my hope, the reason for my hope, the sustainer of my hope and the object of my hope.
Hebrews 10:23 tells me,
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
I have wanted to run, to flee often during this past year dominated by COVID, chaos and fear. But where would I go? This pandemic is world wide. No place has been unaffected. Hebrews 6:18-20 has something to say about where to run to,
“We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
We all want an anchor during stormy times, something to hang on to so we don’t get washed away with the waves. We want something that will settle our soul. How interesting that hope is described as an anchor for the soul in the words above from Hebrews. Hope is my anchor and at the same time, hope is my wings.
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
An anchor and wings, I need both. And HOPE gives me both. I think I picked just the right word for 2021! I felt hopeless during many days of 2020 while isolated and alone. And yet I was never alone and never without HOPE. My Heavenly Father is omnipresent and has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. My “word for the year” will remind me of this truth when disappointments come and the finish line gets moved again. (I think I may need to leave my new Christmas decoration out where I can see it all year)
We are living in an inter-advental time, dear readers. (I just made that word up, but it fits)
Jesus has come! Jesus is coming back again! hence, inter-advental, between His first and second coming.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
sincerely, Grace Day