Dec 262020 1 Response

Don’t Rush Into Next Year

Everywhere I turn, I keep hearing the same refrain—let’s just get this year over with. It’s a statement that started back in the summer. As we began to understand the virus wasn’t just going to be a short inconvenience but instead would be a prolonged experience, people started using 2020 almost like a curse word. Anything negative that happened, people would say, “well, it’s 2020.” (See: When You Didn’t Ask for This)

And now as the year comes to an end, the temptation is for us to quickly turn the calendar from one year to the next. It’s an understandable desire. For everyone, this has been a year of loss. Not every loss has been equal, but everyone has equally lost something. For some, it’s been the loss of experiences or opportunities—graduations, senior seasons, celebrated birthdays, jobs. For others, it’s been the loss of loved ones or even their own lives. For all, it has been a year of loss. Understandably, society wants to quickly turn the page from this year to the next.

In times of grief and hardship, society says run. Hurry as best you can through the sorrow in hopes that better days lie ahead.

Yet faith would tell us to do something different. While the hope of brighter futures and better days is a Christian concept, running through hard times is not a Christian approach. Rather than hastily changing the calendar from one year to the next, the way of faith says to do something contrarian. It calls us to pause and reflect.

The last thing we want to do—to think more about this past year—is the very thing we need to do. While we don’t need to spend a single extra day in 2020, we do need to spend our last days in this year reflecting on what has happened. (See: How Close Are We to a Meaningful Life?)

Two Gifts of Reflection

There are two things that can only be gained through reflection. While it’s tempting to rush to tomorrow, if we do so, we lose two important things—learning and gratitude. Both come only through reflection.

We can’t learn if we don’t reflect. Of course, reflection doesn’t guarantee learning. Many people might fixate on the losses of 2020 and not learn anything. They might just be overwhelmed with the pain and never take a step forward. Reflection doesn’t guarantee learning, but it does create the climate in which it can happen. Without reflection, learning will not take place. Without going back over the test and seeing what answers a student got right and which ones they got wrong, the student can never learn. Without watching the game tape, the athlete never improves. Without debriefing the battle, the soldier never gets better. Learning comes through reflection. We need to spend some time reflecting on 2020 so that we can learn from 2020. What a shame it would be to experience the year we have experienced and not learn anything from it.

We can’t experience gratitude without reflection. When we stop and reflect on what we have experienced, even as we are dealing with our grief and sorrow, we will also remember some things that maybe we have forgotten or we will see some things we didn’t see as we were in the moment. It’s a funny thing about the past, people of faith can often look back and see the hand of God even in situations that at the time it felt like God was absent. As we reflect, not only do we deal with the pain, but we also experience gratitude for the goodness of God through the trials of life.

This is what others don’t understand when they seek to rush through bad experiences. The rushing is a form of denial. The hope is that somehow we can lessen the pain if we just speed up the process. “Rip off the band-aid,” is our thought. Yet the truth is that we can’t really lessen the real pains of life. They are what they are and we have to experience them. To deny them now just means we will have to deal with them later. (See: Three Ways You Are Living in Denial)

Yet when we pause, we risk recognizing our pain, but we also free ourselves to learn from what we have experienced and to feel gratitude for how God been with us through all things.

By all accounts, 2020 has not been a good year. The grief from this past year is deep and real. Yet we should avoid the temptation of quickly turning the calendar during these last few days in order to get into next year. The next year will come, but before we get to 2021, we need to truly reflect on 2020. In so doing, we can learn and give thanks.


What are two ways you would live 2020 differently if you knew then what you know now?

What is the greatest lesson you learned in 2020? How will you teach your kids what you learned?

Looking back, what was God doing around you and in you during this year?

What did God reveal about your heart in 2020 regarding things you had wrongly valued?

What is one thing you can say “thank you” about this year?


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