If I say “Happy New Year!” and you’re a bit skeptical this year, I don’t blame you one bit.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that 2020 wasn’t your favorite year. Between the world-changing pandemic and the society-changing restlessness across America, most of the year was eaten up by fear and anger on a large-scale level. I know I’ve certainly seen those sad traits throughout the United States for the past year.
Your Plan for a Better 2021
We all want to make this year better than last year. With so many difficulties for so many people last year, it seems like the answer might just be to avoid those pitfalls and scratch 2020 from our memories. But these paths are the exact opposite of what God’s Word prescribes to medicate our pain. Here are two simple ways to help you enjoy a better year:
1. Recognize the Blessings of 2020
As tough a year as it might have been for you, no year is truly a wash. There are lessons to learn and joys to remember throughout the course of any year. Even if it felt like each month, week, or even day brought new troubles, that doesn’t mean God’s blessings were absent. Even in isolation, God provides people to help you and enrich your life, whether family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else. Even if money was tight this year and even if you experienced some of your darkest days, I’m happy that you’re able to read these words today and feel breath in your lungs and life in your body by God’s grace.
As tough a year as it might have been for you, no year is truly a wash.
If that’s the bare minimum, most of us probably enjoyed much better than that. Maybe a special birthday celebration or a graduation or adding a new member to the family gave you joy at some point in 2020. Let’s be thankful for the reasons big and small that God gave us to rejoice over this year. Remember the words of Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lᴏʀᴅ is your strength” (8:10). Beyond moments we can point to that made us happy, the Lord is our true source of joy and strength regardless of circumstances (Philippians 4:11–13).
2. Focus on What Matters in Eternity in 2021
While the world around us (and possibly your own personal trials) may have kept you down in 2020, there’s a better approach to take for a better 2021. We should prioritize focusing on God’s goodness this year rather than trying to make our circumstances better. It might sound cliché by now, but it’s true: You can’t always change your surroundings, but you can change your attitude.
Your problems won’t go away just because you flipped the calendar. Things might look a lot like last year for you or even worse. But the way to overcome is to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). To follow the will of God is to focus on eternal things. Paul restated this all-important truth in Colossians 3:1–2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
To follow the will of God is to focus on eternal things.
The key to a God-honoring and personally satisfying 2021 starts with the mind. A mind set on the eternal things above reveals a heart that prioritizes the Lord. A life constantly directed toward the Lord and His glory is a life we should pursue, as well as a life that will find joy in this pursuit of Christ.
Hopefully this year’s new year greetings will ring truer than they did in 2020, but it’s up to you to make this a happy new year regardless of what unfolds. Glory to God for giving us joy even in our hardest times!