I can picture the house I was in on New Year’s Eve 1999, but I don’t remember who it belonged to. Which is odd, actually, that I was willing to go to a stranger’s house on the night when we thought the world might end. I guess you do those kinds of wild and crazy things when you’re 23 years old.
We sat around the living room with our Doritos and sparkling cider (yep, wild and crazy) and watched the ball drop, and when 2000 officially jumped into existence, the lights didn’t go off, the aliens didn’t invade, and there was no mayhem in the streets. I think we all were a little disappointed.
In the same way that everyone waited for the birth of 2000 with fascinated dread, we’re all holding our breath that 2021 will be the opposite. When the clock strikes midnight, we wait in hopeful expectation that all of the disappointment, chaos, and isolation of 2020 will fade away, ushering in a year of prosperity, peace, and happiness. We deserve it, right? Surely the dumpster fire that was 2020 won’t continue for another year?
The chasing of new things seems to be ingrained in human nature. There’s something that dazzles about newness. The shiny new truck, the next new iPhone, even the latest vacuum cleaner. I have a young teenager who, for his birthday, predictably asks for the new version of his favorite video game every single year. We tease him relentlessly about this, since there isn’t much difference between the old and the new. But he remains resolute: He always wants the new one.
We find hope in new things. There’s a thrill in seeing that new package, enveloped in its shrinkwrap, perfect and pristine. There’s an intoxication with the new relationship, dancing on the clouds, devoid of disappointment. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time the happiness will last.
We were created to love new things. Common grace gives them to us rhythmically–in the dependable sunrise, in the coming of spring, and every January 1st. Hope rises in the clear morning air, in the budding cherry trees, and in the clock that ticks past midnight.
But when the clock struck midnight, Cinderella found herself dressed in rags, holding some mice and a pumpkin.
Let us not forget that the thrill of these new things are only meant to be symbols, shadows, road signs that point us to our true source of hope. They should not be where our hope lies.
The problem with misplaced hope is that it is sure to disappoint us. After a few months, the new video game gets boring. The car gets scratches on the door and spilled soda on the seat. The clear spring air dissolves into the muggy heat of summer. And 2021 might not usher in the utopia we are longing for. It could, actually, be worse than 2020.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
And there lies our hope, firm and steadfast. In Christ, I am a new person. In spite of my circumstances, in spite of whatever kind of year 2021 turns out to be, my inner being is being transformed into something new. The world may fall apart around me, but it will not consume me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning.
As a New Creation, I have a New Day to look forward to, which will be better than any new gift, any new morning, any new year. When the New Day dawns, it will never end. On that day, I will never be disappointed again.
But it might not happen in 2021. And until then, we wait with eyes turned upward.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Scripture references: II Cor. 5:17, Lamentations 3, Revelation 21