A Different Kind of
New Year’s Wish
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No one knows what the future holds. We’re quick to wish a “happy new year” on January 1st, but we actually have very little control over how things will play out. “You do not know what a day may bring,” the Bible cautions.1 Over the past year, people the world over have been through some very trying times, and typical New Year wishes for happiness and success now feel slightly hollow.
It’s good to plan ahead and lay solid foundations in our personal and professional lives, but we know from the start that the year is going to be full of events and circumstances that we haven’t foreseen and that we will have limited ability to influence.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, if it reminds us that when all is said and done, the happiest and most secure place for us and our loved ones is in God’s hands. Perhaps rather than wishing the outward manifestations of happiness to those we care about, we should wish for them to be connected to the source of those blessings, the loving Father who promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”2
Whether this year brings prosperity or hardship, health or sickness, love or loss, we can be assured of God’s love and presence, His ability to answer our prayers, and His standing resolution to make all things work together for good in the lives of those who are His children and who love Him.3 God never forgets His promises and He’s never unable to keep them. As Paul observed, “All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’”4
May God bless you with His presence and care in the coming year.—Samuel Keating
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.—Psalm 143:8
A New Year’s prayer
As I begin this New Year, I am reminded of that popular song of the 1970s: “Day by day, day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”5
To see You more clearly… The Bible tells us that God is Spirit.6 He is invisible, and yet we can see Him—in Jesus, in the love shared amongst believers, in the beauties of His world.7
Love You more dearly… “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.”8 I can show God my love by thanking Him for His blessings. Psalm 118:24 says: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I will try to maintain an attitude of gratitude each day in this coming year.
Follow You more nearly… This can be the hardest part, but if I look to Him, and love Him, I will feel His caring presence gently guiding me where He wants me to go. And I can sing with the old refrain: “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I’ve got to do is follow. Strength for the day is mine always, and all that I need for tomorrow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow!”9
And last, but not least, I will ask for peace of mind. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”10 And Paul gives us the recipe in detail: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”11—Rosane Pereira
Because the world needs a Savior
Christmas and New Year. Seasons of love, joy, hope, and cheer. For many of us, it is a favorite time of the year. Sadly, though, in all the hustle and bustle, fun and frolic, we seem to forget the sobering realities of the ones around us and perhaps even among us who might dread the dawn of another day, let alone another year. All is not well for those mourning the loss of a loved one, for those battling chronic illnesses, for those struggling to repay debts, for those whose marriages are breaking.
At a global level, it is even more disturbing. There are wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, forest fires, epidemic outbreaks, drought, poverty, global warming, and on and on. The lofty promises and feeble attempts of geo-political messiahs, economic wizards, and health-care champions are so disproportionate to the magnitude of the crisis.
As mere mortals struggling to fix cosmic problems with earthy interventions, we do well to admit aloud that we need a sort of help that is far bigger than anything we are able to create with our own hands or minds. We need help from the Maker of the cosmos, who has the wherewithal to remedy this god-sized, human cosmic catastrophe.
The Apostle Peter, writing in the thick of intense persecution, suggests to the fledgling early Church struggling under the tyranny of an eccentric Nero to set apart and to revere Christ as Lord, the one born in Bethlehem of a virgin, the child and king foretold by the prophets. … The antidote to hopelessness and despair, says Peter, is to recognize the God-sent Savior, Jesus Christ, and to revere him as Lord. The Son of God became the Son of Man, so that the sons and daughters of humankind could become the sons and daughters of God.
Christ Jesus is the one who unlocks the possibility for hope in this otherwise hope-impoverished world. Jesus Christ is the all-sufficient hope for us. And he is a hope the size of every agony and death, the size of all of humankind and all creation.
Peter then carries this thought outward. If Christ is Lord indeed, those who follow him ought to be agents of hope in this world that is so desperately searching for hope. … Can we present Christ as light and life in a dark world? Can we multiply hope in a world that needs a savior? Christ is the gift of hope in whom these questions find their answer.—Charles Premkumar Joseph12
His unfailing presence
Another year I enter
Its history unknown;
Oh, how my feet would tremble
To tread its paths alone!
But I have heard a whisper,
I know I shall be blest;
“My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
What will the New Year bring me?
Will it be love and rapture,
Or loneliness and woe?
Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper;
I surely shall be blest;
“My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
Climbing the New Year
Taking on the challenges of the New Year is often likened to climbing a mountain: Although it’s a lot of hard work and potentially dangerous, it holds special rewards for those who rise to the challenge and don’t quit till they reach the summit.
But sometimes we may become too self-confident and feel that we can go it alone. If we’re smart, we’ll realize that we need the help of a mountain guide, and of course there’s no better guide than Jesus, who the Bible calls the “Chief Shepherd” of our souls.13 He knows where the green pastures are, as well as where the dangers lie. If we stay close to Him, He will help us to reach our goals for the coming year, to conquer the summit and experience the peace of His presence.
The new year is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months, to thank God for the blessings He’s brought our way, and to open our hearts and minds in anticipation of what He has for us in the year ahead.—Curtis Peter Van Gorder
“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.”—Jeremiah 29:1114
Published on Anchor December 2020. Read by Jon Marc. Music by Michael Dooley.
1 Proverbs 27:1.
2 Hebrews 13:5.
3 Romans 8:28.
4 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT.
5 Stephen Schwartz in Godspell (1971).
6 John 4:24.
7 Colossians 1:15; Romans 1:20.
8 Psalm 95:2.
9 Sidney E. Cox (1887–1975).
10 John 14:27.
11 Philippians 4:6–7 NLT.
13 1 Peter 5:4.