Heading into 2021

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When our children were infants and toddlers, so many times folks came up to my wife and I and told us we were in “the best phase of life.” But it sure didn’t feel like it to me. I was tired constantly, often frustrated, and just getting out the door was an exhausting production. Don’t get me wrong, there was joy in those days for sure, but I often found myself wishing that we could move on to the next phase. Surely, it would be easier. Surely, it would be better. In a lot of ways, it is! And as I reflect, I believe God used those early days of stress to teach us to lay aside our own agendas and allow room for Him to develop His purpose for our family.

And I think if we’re being honest, a lot of us find ourselves in that position today. The past year was…well…a loaded one. Between Covid-19, the battle for racial equality, a divisive Presidential campaign and election, an unpredictable economy, and the stress on relationships that these things have brought about, we are ready to move on to the next phase. Surely, it will be easier. Surely, it will be better.

I confess that I find myself tempted to write the last year off as a loss, to refocus my attention on days ahead. In many ways, it makes so much sense to leave the last dumpster fire of a year behind us. And yet, I find myself reminded that God has been at work.

A few nights ago, when it was time to put the kids to bed, I wasn’t much in the mood to do anything but get them to sleep and be done with the day. But we decided to watch a Bible story and found one about how Jesus’ disciples were not a group of friends that all got along instantly. This was a group with dramatically diverse backgrounds and vocations who varied greatly in their views of the current political landscape. They held different loyalties, standings in society, and expectations of what following Jesus would mean.

And it made me think…what allowed this group to go from passionately disunified individuals to willingly unified followers of Christ? I believe that the key laid in the fact that they eventually put aside their agendas and allowed Christ to do and be what He came to do and be.

And so, I wonder if the same may be true for us in these days. Are we willing to allow God to move in our lives, not in spite of our circumstances, but because of them? In this upside-down kingdom where a king is born in a feeding trough, how might we view this upside-down year in a new light, rather than just wishing it away?

It’s said that hindsight is 2020, but what if instead, we use 2020 as hindsight? What if we take all the things that have happened to us and around us over the past year,
and allow God to focus them into points of reflection and potential growth? As we enter this new calendar year, I’d offer up a few questions to reflect and pray upon as you see fit:

  • Has God used this year of stress and trials to stretch and prepare us for anything?
  • Are there changes to our family/work life that we have neglected being thankful for?
  • Have we gained endurance that might serve us well in days to come?
  • Are we learning new ways to love others even when we don’t agree with them?
  • What have you learned in 2020 that you and your family want to carry with you into 2021?

Jesse O’Hara


Jesse grew up as a pastor's kid and has developed a passion for serving the church. He and Kara are graduates of Eastern University and serve on Frontline and as Community Group leaders. Jesse works in the greenhouse industry, as a grower and manager, and also runs his own woodworking business. Recently, Jesse kindled a love for cross-cultural missions through CFC’s work in Austria. Jesse and Kara are parents to three young children, Juliana, Trystan, and Piper.