Originally published Friday, 06 January 2017.
It's a new year and whenever something is new, there is expectation. Hope. Anticipation. Promise. Longing even. Maybe this year will be the year we _____. Fill in the blank. Find the job we need? Sell the house? Get married? Have a child? Grow our ministry? See that goal we've worked so hard for come to fruition?
For some of us, the New Year doesn't announce new opportunity or hope for improvement or anticipation of a dream coming true. Rather, the New Year rings in with dread, fear, and disappointment. For some, a frightening medical procedure looms on the horizon. For others, the New Year brings loss. Some flip the calendar page knowing that the conflict they've been in all last year will only intensify in the next.
Not everyone sees 2017 as the promise of something new and better, but more of the same, and sometimes, the announcement of something even worse.
If you are looking at this new year and feel a sense of dread and foreboding, I want to encourage you. This new year, though filled with unknowns, is not unknown. 2017, though it may contain heartache, challenge, and difficulty, is not a year to fear. The months ahead may stretch and pull and threaten to undo you, but it will not end you.
That's because God knows what lies ahead for you in 2017. He knows each day and every moment to come. As David wrote, "all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16). All your days this year have been written in God's book. He has carefully constructed the moments of 2017 in exactly the right order as they should be. He has woven the threads of time to bring about what you need most this year.
For those who trust in Christ for their salvation, God has promised to work all things—the good, the not-so-good, and the bad—together for ultimate good. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:28-30). While we tend to start the new year with grand plans and a few weeks in to the year, give up and move on, God finishes what he starts. Those whom he chose before all time, he also called to himself. Those whom he called to be his own, he also saved by grace, through the blood of Christ. Those whom he saved, he also transforms and makes holy. From before the beginning of time, to this moment now, God is unfolding and following through on his plan to redeem and transform you into the likeness of Jesus.
As you stand on the precipice of a new year, don't fear the future for it is in the hands of your sovereign God. Don't dread the unknown for it is fully known by your omniscient Father. Don't grow weary by the challenges to come, for God is with you. He is your refuge and strength, your help in all trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Whatever challenges or trials come your way this year, remember you are not alone. God has gone to great lengths to redeem you from sin—in the sacrifice of Christ—will he not also be with you in all the struggles of your life? Fix your eyes on Jesus and remember the good news of the cross. Remember Christ's perfect life lived for you. Remember the One who was tempted in all things, but never sinned. Remember him, who looked ahead to the cross, dreading what was to come, but for your sake, "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
Instead of the New Year being a harbinger of hard things to come, may it instead be a reminder of the One who is even now making all things new—including you.