As we close the chapter on 2021, I don’t know whether to let out a sigh of relief or hold my breath. What a year.
This past January, the people of the United States came together to inaugurate a new president. We sat mesmerized as the nation’s youngest inaugural poet spoke hope in rhythmic rhyme. We found common ground through laughter as the cross-armed, mittened posture of Bernie Sanders filled our social media streams with memes. Our dehydrated souls drank up this hope and laughter as these events followed the attack on the capital. A few weeks later, fans celebrated the Bucs’ win in the Superbowl—my capricious six-year-old among them. But protests in Myanmar reverberated louder than any stadium cheering.
As we celebrated our mothers, news of mass shootings from California to Florida crossed our news radar. When it was announced troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Taliban made its move—crushing our hearts as we witnessed the persecution of fellow Christians. Although the Olympics in Tokyo united us, masked athletes sporting medals of gold, silver, and bronze stood as a reminder that this year is different. Kidnappings in Haiti, controversial bills, vaccine angst, mandates of all sorts…the list goes on.
Is There Hope?
Is it possible to move into a new year filled with hope—convinced fully that “…all shall be well. And all manner of thing shall be well” (Julian of Norwich)?
I just finished reading C.S. Lewis’ book, The Last Battle. It remains my least favorite of the Narnia series. Perhaps I find too much in common with our present circumstances. Joy and excitement, faith and redemption—textbook material for the first six books—makes no appearance until its final pages. No one believes in Aslan. “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.” There is no hope. Just a king and his unicorn, a boy, a girl, and a few talking beasts.
Will All Be Well in 2022?
I cannot guarantee that 2022 will be kinder, but I can commit to being kinder myself. I cannot prevent tragedy from knocking on the door of our nation, but I can train my heart to respond with love. I possess no superpower to hold back the disagreements which will take place at my own dinner table, but I choose to be the peacekeeper God has called me to be. I may not agree with my neighbor on politics, execution of the law, or the flavor of ice cream, but I can love them as God calls me to do. I can serve them—because God calls me to do so.
Whether or not 2022 brings a reprieve from the difficulties of the past two years, I can trust these present circumstances are temporal. There will come a time when I look upon the new heavens and earth and say like Lewis, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it until now.”
Until that time, I choose to lean in to hope—and maybe look up some Bernie memes.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” —1 Corinthians 15:58