Happy New Year…
Out with the old; in with the new.
No more sorrows of the year past; only the hope of a fresh start.
This all sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Golly, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, everything is going to be SO MUCH BETTER!
As we transition from one year to another, we typically anticipate what the next year may bring. We think and pray that humanity will somehow finally find a way not to tear itself apart. We cling to the hope of good fortune coming our way. We count on the fact that we are finally going to be able to kick those old habits that have been harmful to us. We pray that all those around us will finally treat one another with respect and love.
And then we realize that just 365 days ago, we had the same hopes. We cannot see the new hope because of past disappointments or frustrations.
Imagine yourself wandering through what you imagine to be a wasteland. Maybe it’s a desert. Maybe it is a barren piece of land with nothing recognizable as familiar. Maybe you are feeling lost and disoriented.
But maybe your wasteland is not so literal. Maybe your wasteland is a time or place where you simply feel or have felt no hope.
- Maybe you feel you have no people on whom you can depend.
- Perhaps your family situation has changed dramatically for the worse.
- Maybe your relationships have suffered due to other factors in your life.
- That nagging ache or pain has perhaps been diagnosed as something more serious than “an age thing.”
- Or the material or financial resources you once felt secure in are gone.
- Maybe your car is broken down or your furnace is on its last leg or you have lost your job.
We all go through these times in our lives, and it is difficult to imagine that they will ever get better. We feel that all hope is gone; that all the love is gone; that all the support we have had in the past no longer exists.
I know I am not the only one feeling like this. In the past few weeks, I have talked to too many friends who are experiencing this sense of gloom and doom.
- People struggling with financial problems.
- People going through divorce and/or custody issues.
- People struggling with emotional crises.
- People struggling with family tension.
- People who have unresolved, and often undiagnosed, medical problems.
These folks are not looking forward to the new year with hope and optimism. In fact, they are looking forward with dread.
Take a look at Isaiah 43:18-19:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Think back to that wasteland you visualized. What would make it a “better place?” I believe God is telling us to put our trust in the power of the love of God. In order to move forward into a new year or even a new day in hope, we must first realize that doing so is possible only because we are moved forward in the love of God. This love is ever-present. We know this because of God’s greatest act of love for us. Less than a week ago, we celebrated the fact that God sent His Son not only to be born for us, but also to be a sacrifice for our destructive sin. God gave us the greatest gift of eternal life; how can we not trust Him to provide all we need for daily life?
The next scripture is from Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Friends we need to turn to God at all times, but especially when we are feeling hopeless. As it says in 1 Peter, we need to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us. If we turn our troubles over to God then listen intently for the answer, we will find our way through the wildernesses that we find ourselves in. Usually we try to bargain with God, thinking we know the best solution to our problems. “Hey God, if you do this, then I’ll do this.”
But I think it’s more important to simply talk to God. Your words don’t have to be fancy, but heartfelt. Tell God what you are experiencing, what you are feeling. Sometimes the answer you get may not be the answer you expect. But listen. Follow your heart, and put faith in your God. Know that God is there for you, for us.
I pray that you have a blessed and joyous New Year!