Another year has arrived and in the Lord’s goodness we have been spared to see its beginning. What this year will contain is known only to God. It is a solemn thought that there may be those who read these pages who will not see the end of 2010; it could be any of us.
Doubtless you have made certain plans for the weeks and months ahead, as we are all bound to. Sadly we have the tendency to do this in our own strength. In our pride we purpose to do many things and to accomplish our ambitions – but in our folly we do not take God into our reckoning!
The Bible addresses this sinful attitude. To those who say, “To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain,” it says: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” We ought to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (Jam.4:13-15). It is simply a fact that our times are in God’s hand and what happens in our lives is subject to His providence.
As you look forward what are your great hopes for this new year? There may be some who have little hope. Their lives are full of trouble of one sort or another. Work is a drudge. Sickness is a worry. Family life is fraught. Time for relaxation is rarely found. If they have a hope it is that a better society might be created one day. In a year when a general election is due they may pin their hopes upon politicians. They do not consider that the problem that must first be dealt with is found within ourselves.
Most of us have rather better circumstances. We find our work fulfilling. We have a measure of health and strength. We enjoy the company of those who love us. We have abundant opportunities for leisure. Yet despite these good things, none of which we deserve, many are not content, especially in a time of recession. In a year when the economy is expected to recover their hope is that they will have an even greater abundance of possessions. They live in neglect of God, giving no thought to death and eternity.
There are those whose confidence is in their religion, whatever it might be. It carries them through the bad times and makes them thankful in the good times. Strangely what people believe does not seem to matter so much as that they believe: our religion may be anything so long as it gives us some peace and hope. In a year when a papal visit is expected the hope of many is that such a powerful figure will help put the world to rights.
If we think for a moment we will easily see the folly of these attitudes: ignoring the state of our own hearts, making light of our latter end and trusting in any sort of religion we please. Should we not be seeking to know the truth about ourselves, our futures and our God?
Scripture teaches us that it is sin that has brought sadness, frustration and confusion into our world. Our rebellion against God has robbed us of satisfaction of soul, a sense of purpose and true hope. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour for the guilty and hell-deserving. He lay down His righteous life at Calvary to bear away the sins of many. Those who do not know Him are lost, “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph.2:12). But those who have trusted in Him, repenting of their sins, have “everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2Thess.2:16). They have every reason to look forward. May you be among them!