Rarely do I look forward to a New Year as much as I do now. Not that 2021 was a bad year for me, personally, though the pandemic limited my ability to travel internationally. No, 2021 was a difficult year for so many in the world, with the COVID-19 virus and its variants wreaking havoc on the physical and mental health of billions of people, especially in America where the death toll from the virus is approaching 900,000. In addition to the pandemic and its effect on the world, there continues to be persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. I am always blessed to visit the saints during my teaching missions to Nigeria, as I did in May 2021. But to learn of the outright genocide directed toward believers in Kaduna and Plateau State, where entire church congregations and student bodies have been kidnapped by Muslim terrorists puts in perspective how well most of us have it, not having to worry about being held for ransom due to our faith.
Despite the challenges of 2021, the reason I look forward to 2022 is not merely to put all the chaos behind us, but to appreciate that for those who follow Jesus have our names are “written in heaven.” We serve a loving God whose sacrifice on the cross provided us with a Way to be forgiven of our sins. Our eternity is secure, and we have a Heavenly Father who knows the number of hairs on our heads. I like to repeat the old adage—“We many not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.” It is possible that 2022, in terms of the pandemic and its effects, could be worse that in 2021 (though I am hopeful that will not be the case). Regardless, our citizenship is not here on earth. We are merely sojourners. Our citizenship is in heaven, and our treasures are there where moth and rust cannot corrupt them.
2021 was a year where many of us lost friends and family. The good news is that our Lord promised that we will see them again in heaven. That is why Paul writes to the Corinthians that we do not sorry as those who have no hope, because we do have hope based on what Jesus said. That is a reasonable and precious hope, not a mere wish projection. The One who died and rose from the dead said He was “preparing a place” for His followers in His Father’s house, and that He would come again and receive us so that we would be with Him. Yes, glory in the heavenly kingdom awaits, but until He comes back or calls us home, we are told to make disciples of all nations, preach the Gospel, and occupy until He comes. 2022 provides new opportunities for us do to just that, despite any opposition from circumstances.
Are you ready for what lies ahead? Standing with Jesus is the divine vaccine against fear and worry. Let not our hearts be troubled (John 14:1) because the Lord is in control. Follow Jesus, and you will not only endure, but thrive through adversity. Acknowledge the Lord as your Savior, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6). Let us claim 2022 as a year where we rebound and make our priority to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33