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Facing 2021 with Hope

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by Jamie Roach

2020 was a very difficult year: COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, virtual school, separation from friends and family, a country divide over an election… But God is present. God is always present. We just have to develop eyes that see. Reflect back on 2020 with eyes that see. Give thanks for the good, acknowledge what was hurtful and look to 2021 with hope, knowing God will be with you, giving you exactly what you need.
Take some time as the New Year approaches or begin to walk through this exercise with your children. Read through the five steps below and explain them to your children on their level. If you find this practice to be helpful, consider making it a New Year’s tradition. Practice it regularly with your children before bedtime to reflect on the day as a way of becoming more aware of God’s Presence.

Five steps to review 2020 with your children and look forward to 2021 with hope:

  1. Breathe

    Hold your hand in front of your face as you breathe in and out. Can you feel your breath as it leaves your body? Can you smell your breath? Did you know the same word we use for “breath” was also used in the Bible when describing the Holy Spirit? As you feel your breath on your hand, imagine God’s Spirit. With every breath you take, imagine breathing in God’s presence, light and love. As you center yourself, know that God is present, as close as the air you breathe.
  2. Give Thanks

    Being thankful is foundational to our relationship with God. Draw a smiley face and think of three things that happened in the last year that brought a smile to your face. Think back over the past year. What are three things that you are thankful for? What did you accomplish, what would you like to do again, or when did you give or receive love?  How can you recognize God in those details?
  3. Feel

    Draw a plus sign and a negative sign as you think about how you felt the past year.  Perhaps you can remember feeling boredom, frustration, anger or sadness.  Maybe you remember other times you felt joy, compassion or surprise. As you think about all those feelings, consider what God might be saying through those feelings. Ask yourself: When was I the most happy? Where was God in that experience? Now think about another time when you felt really angry or sad.  What was done or said in that moment to make it so difficult? 
  4. Pray

    As you hold those moments from the past year that brought you joy, give God thanks for each one that comes to mind. Think about those other times when you felt sadness or anger. If you notice feelings of regret or guilt, admit to God those things for which you are sorry and receive God’s forgiveness. Then consider praying the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, often called The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father:

    Our Father in heaven,

        hallowed be your Name,

        your kingdom come,

        your will be done,

            on earth as in heaven.

    Give us today our daily bread.

    Forgive us our sins

        as we forgive those

            who sin against us.

    Save us from the time of trial,

        and deliver us from evil.

    For the kingdom, the power,

        and the glory are yours,

        now and forever. Amen.

  5. Look Ahead

    Draw a sunrise or write “2021” as you think about what might be coming your way in the next year. Can you imagine God as already being there and waiting for you? As you think about the next year, what challenges or hopes come to mind?Are you nervous, excited or worried? Why? 
    As you consider moving into the new year, remember God will be with you. God’s grace is more than enough for you to face whatever comes your way. Ask God for whatever it is you need: wisdom, strength, courage, protection or anything else. Make the decision to seek God’s guidance and help in the new year. Know that as you walk with God, God will give you everything you need to face each new day. With God there is joy, power and hope! 

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