HAPPY NEW YEAR! - Week of December 25th

By Judy Nichols

December 25, 2016


    Happy New Year! It’s an oft-repeated wish this time of year. It’s tacked on to the Christmas greetings we send. We go to parties in honor of the New Year. And why not? Newness is definitely a cause for celebration. We have a whole New Year ahead of us, three hundred and sixty-five all-new days. What will fill them? What opportunities will we have in the days of this year? What decisions will we face? What joys will be ours? What sorrows?

    Sorrows? One shouldn’t think of sorrows-to-come at the New Year. This is a time for optimism! Yes, New Year’s is a time for looking at the bright side of things, but we all know that sorrow and pain may come. And optimism alone will not see us through those times. We need more than mere optimism. We need a new way of looking at the events of our lives. We need a new perspective that sees beyond the circumstances at hand.

    This new ability – it’s called faith – is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. It enables us to see our lives as more than a series of unconnected happenings. The author of Hebrews defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). And Paul urges us to use this gift when he says, "In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thess. 5:18). Giving thanks, regardless of our circumstances, is truly an exercise in faith, and enables us to put those circumstances in proper perspective. It acknowledges that God has a plan and is in control of our lives.

    Not only does God have a plan for each of us, but that plan is a good plan. Listen to something else Paul said, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). What could be more optimistic than to know that, no matter what happens, God will use it for my good? This is not just looking at the bright side of things and hoping for the best, but an optimism based on the truth of God.

    What else is new that we can celebrate with the New Year? We are! When we are born again, we become brand new people. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2Cor. 5:17). God not only gives me a new ability, but he gives me a new me, too.

    And the new me isn’t left alone to learn how to use this new ability. The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness" (Lam. 3:21-23). With each new day God has provided a unique set of His own gracious acts toward us to help us through this life here on earth. That indeed gives us hope.

    This hope is greater than anything the world has to offer; something that even the fiercest optimism of the world knows nothing about. The apostle Peter tells us about it, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:3-4). The new things God has to offer aren’t just for this life here and now. They extend on throughout eternity. We can hope for a happy, prosperous life here on earth, and it may or may not happen. But we have absolute certainty that we will enjoy an eternity of new life in the presence of our precious Lord and Savior.

    Somehow, in view of all that’s new for me because of Jesus Christ, the New Year and its celebrations seem to shrink in importance. But it is a New Year, one worth celebrating because God has created it for the new me to live in and exercise my new ability with His ever-new mercies to help me. And when it’s done, I will be one year closer to the new hope He has given me. That’s a lot to celebrate. Happy New Year!

© J.H.Nichols 2004

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