I drove home from Harrogate to Halesworth on Boxing Day, having spent Christmas day with my family. It was a strange journey – the roads were eerily quiet, and the overhead signs progressed from ‘Tier 3 – Stay alert’ to ‘Tier 4 – Stay at home’ once I reached Huntingdon. I had left Suffolk in Tier 2 a few days earlier and was returning to Tier 4 restrictions. I felt quite sad as a I drove, as I don’t know when I’ll next be able to visit my family and daunted by the prospect of living under such tight restrictions again.
However, I had been encouraged by my readings in the morning before I left. The Word for Today was based on Genesis 2:15 and talked about finding purpose in your work – like Adam and Eve, we were created to be creative, productive and invested in tasks that contribute to God’s purposes. I also read Joshua 1:9, ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ I felt that God was gently encouraging me through both these readings.
As I drove south, I thought back over 2020 and what I’d learnt during this very challenging year. I know that I have become more objective about what I feel and able to live in the truth. The negative feelings are still there and at times do threaten to overwhelm, but I cannot afford to let them. The circumstances of last year and the amount of time I’ve spent on my own, along with my desire to be practical in my care and support for others and to serve the Lord, has meant I can’t afford to let negative feelings dominate and I’ve become more ruthless in dealing with them. Lockdowns have driven me to be more dependent on the Lord and more honest with him, as well as more creative in the ways I pray and worship on my own.
I also started to look forward and think about the coming year and two words came to mind – ‘hope’ and ‘trust’. I thought about the tenuous hopes expressed as I left Yorkshire, to see family more in 2021 and that things will improve for everyone. They are genuine hopes and desires, and I don’t think they’re wrong, but hope in God goes much deeper than hope in circumstances – my hope is in Christ regardless of what circumstances we face in the coming year. As I drove the song ‘Hope and glory’ by Tim Hughes was playing and it expressed what I was thinking.
Alongside hope there must be trust. As I look back over last year (and the previous 59!) I can see God’s continuous faithfulness and that is the basis on which I can trust for the coming year – that, although I don’t know what lies ahead, that hope which is based in Christ will provide the way.