Happy New Year! I pray that everyone reading this will have a 2017 that is indeed happy, and peaceful, and filled with the presence of God.
I’m not sure I’ve ever known so many people expressing a hope that this year will be better than last. For some that is a result of personal and family situations which have made 2016 a difficult year. For others it is a result of the number of household names who seem to have died (David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, the list goes on…), which perhaps reminds them of their own mortality. For still others the various political developments in this country and around the world have made them feel unsafe and uncertain of the future.
None of us know what 2017 will bring, whether it will be better or worse, but it is inevitable that it will hold times of sadness and distress. So how do we motivate ourselves to carry on?
As I reflected on the last year God gave me the chorus of a gospel song, “Because he lives I can face tomorrow, because he lives all fear is gone.” When Jesus was on earth he experienced the joys of being human, but also the sorrows, grief, terrible suffering, torture, and death. But he walked through this and out the other side into fullness of life. And now he walks with us through everything we experience in life, its joy and its sorrows.
So I hope 2017 will be a good year for you, but when the difficult times come we face them with Jesus who “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” where he is still seated today (Hebrews 12:2). His death and resurrection don’t make any promises that we won’t hit difficulties this year, but they do assure us that he is in control, and give us hope for a future that is full of joy and peace in his presence.