January is a great time for new beginnings. It is a time when people remember the past and look with anticipation toward the future. 2009 brought changes for many of us. It brought some economic changes that have meant difficult times for many. There were some families that hit rocky roads this past year. Some lost loved ones. Some faced heartbreak. There were people whose health began to fail them. Our nation was at war, and we lost many good men and women on the battlefield.
But, these were not the only kinds of changes. Babies were born! People got married. Some marriages were saved. Some people were healed. Some gave their lives to Jesus for the very first time. Some returned to him after wandering far from home. God miraculously protected some soldiers who found themselves in the line of fire. 2009 was a difficult year in many ways, but it was also a year filled with the goodness and mercy of God.
Life is always like that. It has ups and downs, good times and bad. The question is whether we will choose to live with a glass that is half empty or marvel at a glass that always seems to be partially full—no matter how much is spilled out by those experiences which really shake us up.
God promises us that somehow all of those troubles we face, all of those difficult circumstances will work out for his glory and our good. He has made us victors over all of life’s variables because he is at work behind the scenes to direct all the events of our lives ultimately towards the bigger picture of what he wants to accomplish in us. Paul tells us “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).” This doesn’t say that all things are good, but it does tell us that God works through whatever circumstances we find ourselves in to bring about his plans for our lives.
This should give us great joy! Great joy because we are not at the mercy of the precarious vicissitudes of human existence. We are not just little boats tossed about by the waves. We have a real anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19)! Our ultimate hope is that God will do something new in our hearts…and not just in our hearts, but in our world! Long ago, Isaiah recorded this promise, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind (Isaiah 65:17).”
The former things are all those terrible things that have taken place in 2009 and the years which preceded it. But, the former things are also some of those blessings which God has granted us in the past. What does this mean? It means that God promises to do something so new and fresh and powerful that not only will we forget our former troubles, but even his previous acts of deliverance will pale in comparison to what he has planned for our future. God’s new creation begins in our heart, and it points toward a plan he has put in motion to liberate creation itself from bondage to decay (Romans 8:21). This is why Paul said, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).”
Whatever you have gone through in 2009, there is hope for you! Some day you will see what God has been planning in your life all along and you will be amazed! Hold on to that hope and begin 2010 with the confidence of knowing that God has glorious things to reveal in and through and for you!