Hope for the New Year

Charles Dickens said in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” I think I can speak for our family in saying that 2021 was both the worst year of our lives, and the best. It was a year of challenges, but it was crowned with the love and care of God’s family all around the world and with a Christmas miracle. We turn our eyes to the only One who can make miracles happen—the One who created the universe and draws us to Himself with lovingkindness.

As we look forward to God’s plans for the new year, this powerful Scripture passage from the Old Testament gives us great hope:

“This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, ‘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’” (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19).

These words were first spoken by God through the great prophet Isaiah, not only for ancient Israel, who had more than enough to forget, but for every generation who loves and trusts God.

We talk about the new year in terms of resolutions—hopes, dreams, and goals—things we loved about the past year, things we want to change, want to be different. And each year, we look back at its unfulfilled resolutions, the unexpected changes it brought us, and the ways that the year surprised us.

Or disappointed us. It’s all too easy to become fixed on the negative things and to let them bring us down.

But the new year brings a new, clean slate, a turning with hope to what the future may bring. It is faith in the One who holds our lives in his hands that makes this hope a real and powerful part of our lives. Our sovereign God is always in charge.

The sovereignty of God means that he runs his universe, controls all of history, restrains evil from becoming as bad as it wants to be, plans for our best, grants his grace and mercy to us instead of treating us according to what our sins deserve, and ultimately brings everything to his decreed good purpose and end.

So let this year be a year of change—God’s change. Let’s commit ourselves to another year of love and hope, letting our hearts and minds be full of dreams and plans bigger than ourselves. Whatever the past year has brought, we need be hindered by nothing that might threaten to weigh us down.

Absolutely nothing.

Let’s forget what is behind us, as Paul says in Philippians: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

As believers, we have the greatest reason for confidence in a bright, hopeful, and joy-filled tomorrow. That’s what gives us the assurance to forget about the past—the things that dishearten us or fill us with fear—and look with trust toward the future.

In 2022 may each of us become the person our neighbors desperately need, a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2), a bold and fearless witness to Jesus Christ and the eternal Kingdom of God.

Photo by Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash