“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” —Isaiah 43:19
2020 was supposed to be the year.
On New Year’s Eve 2019, some cheered for the new decade while dressed to the nines at parties and holding their loved ones.
Now, large gatherings are no longer encouraged and there are few reasons to dress up. Many are financially strained. Others have empty chairs around the table, with family members hospitalized or having passed away.
COVID-19 has changed the world, marking 2020 with heartache, depression, loss, frustration and disappointment.
So where do you go from here? How do you set yourself up for success in 2021—or is that even possible?
As you walk into the new year, there’s a way to do that with confidence. This is different from a weight loss plan or tightening your budget. Although your life may still be far from “normal,” you can steady yourself on the Lord Himself.
That’s the key—focusing on the One who never changes as you go through the wilderness or face the unexpected. It’s about thinking less of yourself and prioritizing the very reason you’re on this planet—to glorify God.
And that looks a lot less like a to-do list and more like the Gospel.
It doesn’t mean having perfect church attendance or giving the biggest tithe. It’s about embracing grace for yourself and others, and seeking God even when you don’t necessarily see or feel Him. So whether you’re feeling apathetic or bitter toward God after a hard year, stagnant in your faith or stronger than ever, take heart.
God’s love is the only expectation you can have that will never fail you. He’s an ongoing guide through life’s obstacles, a solid plan when there’s no roadmap and a loving Father whose arms are always open.
Here are 4 ways to renew your relationship with God as you approach the new year:
1. Pray with expectancy and faith.
Talk to God. Be honest with Him about how you feel, just as David expressed his anguish during trials in the Book of Psalms. God wants you to share your emotions with Him. He already knows your heart, but He wants you to open it to Him. Don’t forget to look for God’s goodness during a challenging season and praise Him. Tell Him your hopes and desires for the future, and believe that He has the full ability to redeem all things.
2. Evaluate your heart.
It’s easy to depend on other things around you for security, but this can quickly overtake your heart. Look at your bills, how you’re spending your time and what’s bringing you happiness. Are you frustrated with your spiritual growth or lack thereof in 2020? Take steps to revolve everything around your love for God instead of just making Him one aspect of your life.
This may mean saying a prayer when you feel like you’re falling short in helping your child with schoolwork; spending 10 minutes reading the Bible; worshiping God daily; or keeping a less-packed schedule so you have more margin to dwell in each moment God has given you.
This one may step on your toes. Ask God to convict your heart of areas in your life that are not honoring to Him—and ask for His forgiveness.
If you ignored God or blamed Him for the difficulties you faced this past year, admit that to Him and apologize. If you’re holding tightly to a plan or desire that you know He wants you to let go, surrender that to Him.
Maybe you feel like you threw in the towel on faith when things didn’t go your way this year. Get back to your relationship with God and set up boundaries to help yourself not turn to other things.
4. Seek Jesus and rely on Him with your future.
It’s hard to find what you’re not seeking.
Just as you take time to make a Zoom or FaceTime call, make room for God in your life and share your concerns with Him. Go ahead and give Him your worries and fears for 2021—He can handle them. Think about ways you can continually do this, whether through prayer journaling, going on a prayer walk or starting a Bible study. Ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Let your faith be refined during the hardest seasons of life and help you find joy and peace in the midst of it.