The importance of growing in 2020

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2019

By Nathan Rice

I will admit that I was glad when 2018 came to an end. It was a difficult year for me. I became ill and spent months visiting various doctors as they tried to determine what caused the pain throughout my body. During the time of this pain, an event transpired that left me feeling hurt and betrayed by a group of people I thought would always be behind me.

I was hopeful that 2019 would be a better year, and it started on a positive note. A group of students and an additional chaperone cheered on the new year at my house between rounds of games and snacks. Doctors had given me hope regarding my medical condition, and I continued to push towards my goals in my life and my ministry. I survived 2018, and I looked forward to the beginning of a new year.

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Unfortunately, 2019 was not the year I hoped it would be. I’ll never forget the day my phone buzzed and the words, “I’m sorry. They’re gone,” shook my world to its foundation. I also don’t believe I’ll ever forget the day I had to shut the doors of a ministry I had work so hard to build. Nothing worked out the way I hoped in 2019.

I do not share this for pity. Nor do I desire to start 2020 on a sour note. It’s quite the opposite. I learned a lot in the past two years, and as I start 2020, I hope some of the lessons I learned will encourage you and give some perspective as we begin this new decade together.

First, I encourage you to keep trying in life. I’ve taken a lot of hits in the past two years, but I am entering 2020 more determined than ever to pursue my goals and chase my dreams. Life will not always go smoothly, but that does not mean we should give up or back down.

Instead, we should use what we have learned during the difficult times to help us better prepare for the year that begins today. I have perspectives now that I could not have obtained if I had not experienced the pain and the grief brought by the events of the last two years. I am entering 2020 more knowledgeable and, if you’ll forgive the cliché, knowledge is power.

Next, I have learned that a constantly changing life does not mean that there aren’t some good things that can be enjoyed along the way. I have been blessed in many ways, and I must be careful not to miss these blessings as I mourn what was lost in the past two years.

Lastly, and most importantly, I have a better understanding of the promise of God to never leave me or forsake me. It is His love, grace, and mercy that brought me through the past two years, and it’s His promises that allows me to enter 2020 with confidence.

I don’t know what life has brought each of you the past few years, and I can’t tell you what 2020 will hold. I hope, however, that you will enjoy the blessings that exist in your life, use the knowledge you gain over the past few years to grow in 2020, and move confidently into this new decade. Happy New Year!

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at