An elderly couple living in a retirement center “got sweet” on each other. One day, the man asked the lady to marry him. A few days later, he approached her, stating that he knew he had asked her an important question but had forgotten what it was. He wondered if she remembered what he had asked. She replied, “You asked me to marry you, but for the life of me I can’t remember what I said.”

The year 2020 is a year that most of us would like to forget. The sooner the better. It has been one more brutal year. In fact, many of us this past Friday did not celebrate the arrival of a new year so much as we celebrated our survival of the old one. Many of us have breathed a sigh of relief that 2020 is over and done.

Allow me to raise a question. How do we know what kind of year 2021 will be? None of us expected 2020 to turn out the way it did. What assurance do we have that 2021 will be any better?

None. It could be worse! For some of us it probably will be; however, as we face the new year, allow me offer what I trust will be a word of hope and encouragement.

In a conversation in which God called Moses to lead the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, the question arose as to God’s name. Asserting that the children of Israel would demand to know the name of the God who was sending him to them, God instructed Moses to tell them that “I AM” was sending him. The phrase “I AM” can be rightly translated, “I AM who I Am”; “I AM who/what I want to be”; “I AM (the) One who is”; “I AM the Eternal One”; “I AM Creator/Sustainer.”

I would encourage us to remember that this same God, this same eternal “I AM” who promised to accompany Moses in the days ahead, stands with us we face the new year. As we contemplate this fact, we need to remember that “I AM” loves us and is concerned about us and our welfare. As the eternal one, he is in control of all things and this coming year nothing will catch him off guard nor prove more than he can handle. He’s got this!

I am no prognosticator of the future. I cannot foretell the kind of year 2021 will end up being. I do not know what the days ahead hold, but of one thing I am certain. “I AM” stands alongside of us and will navigate the year with us.

We just celebrated the season of “Emmanuel” — “God with us.” This same “I AM” born in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago is with us and will accompany us throughout the year ahead.

One poet has put it this way:

God is before me; he will be my guide,

God is behind me, no ill can betide;

God is beside me, to comfort and cheer,

God is around me, so why should I fear?

“I AM” is with us. “I AM” will travel the year with us. This should be a cause of both rejoicing and hope.

W. Jonathan Payne is a retired pastor in The Wesleyan Church who lives in Greenwood. He may be reached at paynejonathan739@gmail.com or at 864-341-6794.