What will next year be like?

As I asked myself this question while reflecting on the soon-to-be-ended tumultuous year of 2020, I couldn’t help but also wonder: What will we make of 2021?

As I pondered on this, one recent article in the local news struck me. Coming amid the more dramatic news of Covid-19 infections, it probably didn’t attract the attention of most people, but I thought it was significant.

It was a report of a record $25 billion plan being made to further research and innovation over the next five years in Singapore. The Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan, the article said, was needed to help our country emerge stronger from the Covid-19 crisis as well as prepare it for future threats—including possible infectious diseases.

To me, this report underlined an important lesson: we’ve had a bad year, but we need to look ahead and build for the future.

How can we apply this to our spiritual journey as followers of Christ?

Indeed, this has been a bad year for many of us—for our own lives, our families, our work or school, as well as the practice of our Christian faith. In affecting church services and gatherings, Covid-19 has transformed the way we grow in our faith. We have had to rethink what church services and Christian fellowship are all about, and form new habits to help us draw closer to God.

But as we prepare to bid goodbye to 2020, let’s not stop at reflecting on the year past. As things begin to return to normal in 2021, I believe that we can do much more to prepare for the year ahead.

This was the attitude that kept the apostle Paul going through his ministry. Instead of dwelling on his past achievements and the setbacks he faced, he focused on “what’s next”. “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead,” he said, “I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

What an inspiring motto!

As 2020 ends and 2021 arrives, shall we “forget what is behind” and “strain towards what is ahead”?

Perhaps we might consider these three ideas:

1. Re-dedicate ourselves to God’s Word
Psalm 19:7 states simply:

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

God’s Word is true, perfect, and refreshing. It opens our eyes and hearts to God, and give us wisdom. Next year, how about re-dedicating ourselves to reading and reflecting on the Bible? Let us make a pledge to spend more time with Him and His Word, that we will come to know and love Him more.

2. Re-start meetings with fellow believers
Hebrews 10:24–25 are probably among the most often-quoted verses of the year, but they continue to hold true:

Let us consider how we may spur one another
on towards love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another
– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

With church services beginning to resume and small gatherings allowed, let us, if possible, rebuild our habit of meeting fellow Christians to praise and worship God together, and for mutual encouragement and fellowship. Online services and video conferencing, while convenient, cannot fully replace the beauty of meeting in person. Keeping the necessary restrictions and safety measures in mind, let us look for creative ways to meet, encourage, inspire, and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. Continue to Reach out to others
Galatians 6:10 contains a simple yet powerful call:

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…

This year, we witnessed many inspiring examples of self-sacrifice and love, as many people showed their care for neighbours and strangers alike, especially during the Circuit Breaker. Next year, let’s renew our pledge to “do good to all people”, and let our love for God translate into love for others. Let our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

 

Father, I pledge myself once again to You.
Give me a new passion for Your Word,
and a new love for fellow believers,
a new compassion for others,
that I might heed Your commandment
to love You with all my heart, soul, and mind,
and to love others as myself.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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