Happy New Year, friends. As we begin this New Year, I want to send greetings to every single member of the Southern California Conference. I want to wish you a prosperous and happy New Year: an easier and simpler 2021. In 2020, we had a very complicated year in many aspects — in our personal lives and at work.
At work, we had to learn how to do our work remotely, virtually. We had to do many things that we haven't done in the past: We had to participate in birthdays, retirement farewells, even bridal and also baby showers. In the area of our church, we had to participate in something new. We never had communion services virtually; we never had before ordination of ministers virtually. We didn't have virtual weddings, graduations, church anniversaries and so on. Now, as we have passed the Thanksgiving season and we have passed the Christmas season, we also had to participate virtually in many of these holiday celebrations.
How will 2021 be? We don't know. One thing we realize is that as we begin this new year, we hear two voices. One voice is leaning on the uncertainty, on how our health is going to be, on more restrictions in terms of safety. Also, we have heard that the worst is ahead. In terms of the economy, we heard that we are at the brink of a collapse, that our country is going into a deeper debt. And all of this, for many people, brings a lot of concerns and anxiety.
On the other side, there is another voice that provides more assurance, more certainty. That is something, my friends, that I want to invite you to consider: No matter what happens in 2021, we're ready to face 2021. We already learned in 2020 how to face difficulties. Actually, we were caught by surprise in many areas — and we did it. The Lord helped us, and that is something that we need to recognize.
I want to share with you what Paul says in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
As we lived through 2020, God knew how we were going to face it, and He was close to us in the very difficult time, even when we were losing our loved ones, we sensed that the Lord was close to us.
My friends, as we begin 2021, let's rely on the promise that the Lord gave to Moses in Exodus 33:14. Here, we can find assurance as we begin this new year: "The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'"
Brothers and sisters, as we begin this new year, we can rely on the fact that the Lord is going to be with us. In a statement that has been well-known for many years, Ellen G. White says: "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Life Sketches, page 196). Every single day of our lives, we learn, and we have learned to lean on the Lord in 2020. Now, as we begin this new year, let's experience this confidence in Him.
As we enter into this new year, let's turn our eyes upon Jesus. Let's keep trusting in Him all the time. May the Lord help us all to move with confidence that our lives are in His hands. Blessings to all as we begin 2021. Happy New Year.