Limping into 2021

I had a lot of hopes for this year.

I was excited about 2020 – excited to settle in our new home, excited to feel more established in my new ministry role, excited to watch my kids make new friends, excited to get to know a lot of people in our church, excited to dream.

And like everyone else, I got sucker-punched by 2020. Along with you, I felt the sick-heartedness of deferred hope (Proverbs 13:12) and the grief of loss. The year that had brimmed with such optimism, options, and opportunities turned increasingly sour. The longer it went on, the more I knew it was going to leave a mark. There was no way I was going to get through it unscathed. My initial hopefulness turned into a continuous “brace for impact” posture.

As December rolled around, I was in no frame of mind to “finish strong.” To be honest, I just wanted the year to be over.

I felt like I was limping into 2021.

And in that moment I thought of Jacob in Genesis 32. The fretful night before he was to face his murderous brother and an uncertain future, Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord.* As unwelcome as it must have been, this wrestling match put him in close contact with the Lord. Jacob left the Angel’s presence with a blessing and a limp. This would be a limp he’d never recover from – a perpetual reminder of weakness, dependence, and God’s presence in uncertainty. His body would be scarred by severe love. Noticeably worse for wear, Jacob limped into his future.

As much as I don’t really want to relive 2020 or reflect on it again, I suspect a thorough spiritual retrospection would reveal the Angel of the Lord’s presence in my story, too. Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad for not finishing 2020 strong. Limping into 2021 doesn’t seem as inappropriate anymore.

I’d rather limp – leaning on God – than walk alone into 2021. In this sense, I’m very excited about the New Year.

*I encourage you to read the full story in Genesis 32-33. My personal opinion is that the Angel of the Lord is an example of a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament.

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