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New Year reflections; God is with us

As 2021 quickly approaches, I have heard many express this sentiment: “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over. 2021 has to be a better year.”

We all pray this is so. This past year is likely the most difficult year that any of us have ever lived through. No one ever wants to have anything like it again.

Of late, I have been lingering on one thought. On Jan. 1, 2020 as we celebrated the coming of the New Year, no one had any glimpse of what 2020 would hold. Almost no one noticed a virus getting worse in Wuhan, China. No one even guessed that we would experience such things as stay-at-home-orders, social distancing, shut-downs, and masks.

None imagined that we would need to close our doors to in-person worship, not once, but twice in 2020. My oldest son had a vacation planned for the third week of January to Hong Kong and Singapore. John and I were concerned about him going, not because of Covid-19, but because the riots and protests in the streets of Hong Kong.

Who even suspected that we would see protests and violence in US streets in 2020? On Jan. 1, 2020, we were all clueless about the difficulties of the year to come.

The truth is, as we celebrate the coming of a New Year, none of us ever knows what that year will hold for us.

We make our plans, and dream our dreams, and often think we know what is coming, but we never really do.

Every year I can remember has held many unexpected things — both joys and sorrows. If 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us this: While we have input through our decisions and choices about how the year-to-come will unfold, none of us are in control of what will or will not happen in the future.

There is more uncertainty in life than most of us care to admit.

Does that mean we need to greet January 1, 2021 with fear and trepidation? I pray that is NOT the lesson, we take 2020. Though we never know what the future holds, we do know who holds us both today and in the future–our God, who is with us and for us. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

So no matter what 2021 holds, Jesus will help us through, just as he has helped us through 2020. We may face difficult times, but with Jesus, we do not have to face them alone. That is the lesson I pray we take from 2020.

All that being said, I do pray blessings for each and every one in 2021.

I pray that you will find yourself right in the middle of what God is doing, that it will give your life meaning and purpose no matter what else happens, and that you will know God is ever near.

And a pray that you live with joy, no matter the circumstances of life, because you know you are ever in God’s care. Amen and amen.

Rev. Dr. Diann O’Bryant is minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta.

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