Are you tired of hearing “what a year!”?  Okay, I won’t say it then. But as we enter this new year, I hope we can begin to feel a sense of celebration as we emerge from separation and lockdown in Australia.

It has been a tough journey these past twelve months. From bushfires to pandemic and social challenges. But I believe, it is still possible to feel hope in this blessed nation as we forge a way forward.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in the past several months where I have felt the heaviness of all that is going on across the world. The effect of this pandemic on health, societies, and economies is on a scale not experienced since World War II.

So, I have kept trying to find ways to keep perspective.

Often keeping perspective can be a challenge considering the major travesties affecting the most vulnerable, thousands of kilometres away. The pandemic disaster has been even less tangible in some ways. We have all felt vulnerable, we have all been disrupted, and we have all struggled, but we cannot see the virus.

The stories of challenge from developing communities and refugee groups remind me that while what we have faced in Australia is serious, other countries have it much tougher.

And so, it’s our work together that brings about hope.  With God’s help together, we can make a difference, even in such difficult circumstances.

It is humbling and motivating to know that you and I can bring hope as we live out Jesus’ example. Thank you for answering His call to love those who are poor, marginalised, and vulnerable. Particularly in such a challenging time.

However, my biggest source of hope this past year is that the struggles drew me closer to the source of hope through God’s word.

Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of extreme suffering – wars, slavery, desolation, oppression.  Yet God always guided those before us through the most difficult paths. He has always been and will always be: God, Jesus, the essence of hope.  

The stories of the past and the knowledge of the Lord in our midst, loving us all, giving us the opportunity and inspiration to serve and care, surely must give us faith for the present and the future, despite what we experienced in 2020.

So, take heart! Engage! “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control!”  (2 Timothy 1:7).

And so, on behalf of my wonderful colleagues at Baptist World Aid, I hope you’ve had a safe and blessed Christmas for you and your family. And as we look to a new year ahead, we can trust God is already preparing us for those opportunities of service that draw us closer to Him. Here is to another year full of hope and faith in God’s amazing love and grace for all of us.