As we look ahead to the year that stretches before, here are four truths that ought to encourage us in 2006:
1. God is already there because he is the God who goes before his people.
2. God promises to be with you no matter what happens to you this year.
3. If you know the Lord, the worst thing that can happen is that you will go to heaven this year, which is also the best thing that can happen to you this year.
4. You will have all the time you need this year to do everything God wants you to do.
In some ways, that last point is the most important one because many of us enter the New Year feeling a bit rushed and harried and hurried. We feel like we’re behind the eight ball, so to speak, before the game even begins. No matter what else happens in the next 12 months, rest assured that you will have all the time, all the strength, and all the wisdom you need to do everything God wants you to do. That principle should not be stretched to mean that you are guaranteed to accomplish all your goals or that every one of your dreams will come true. We still live in a fallen world where things break down and nothing works quite right. But given that limitation, we can have confidence that God will supply all that we truly need, when we need it, so that we can do his will in 2006.
No one can say with certainty what the New Year will bring. None of us knows if we will even be here 12 months from now. But that thought should not alarm us in any way. To all our fears the Lord says quite simply: “Fear not.”
Will things get worse? Fear not.
Will I lose my health? Fear not.
Will I get cancer? Fear not.
Will I keep my job? Fear not.
Will my loved ones struggle? Fear not.
Will my investments collapse? Fear not.
Will I run out of money this year? Fear not.
Will tragedy strike in my family? Fear not.
Will my children disappoint me? Fear not.
Will others ridicule my faith? Fear not.
Will my plans come to nothing? Fear not.
Will my dreams turn to ashes? Fear not.
Will I face death this year? Fear not.
Any of those things might happen to us; indeed, some of them are bound to happen to us eventually. But the word of the Lord remains. Fear not. The Lord himself is with us today and he will be with us tomorrow. We of all people ought to be optimistic as we face a new year. We have a great future because we have a great God. So chin up, child of God. Stop staring in the soup. Pull those shoulders back. Put a smile on your face. Take your troubles, wrap them up, and give them all to the Lord. Folks, I have a feeling in my heart that 2006 is going to be a great year for us. Not without troubles, not without heartache, not without difficulty, not without opposition. We’ll have our share of hard times, but overriding it all is the promise of God who said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
On Christmas Day 1939, King George VI of England gave a brief radio address to his troubled nation. England was already at war with Germany. Soon all of Europe would be plunged into the horror of brutal, unrestrained warfare. Hoping to calm the troubled hearts of his countrymen, the king offered words of encouragement as the storm clouds gathered overhead. He ended his remarks by quoting a hitherto unknown poem by Louise Haskins, “The Gate of Year.” It has since become known around the world:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.
And he replied:
Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.
~ Louise Haskins
What a word that is for us today. No one but God knows what the future holds. Let us do as the poet suggested and place our hands in the hand of Almighty God. And let us go out into the unknown future with confidence, knowing that if God go with us, we need not fear the future. To walk with the Lord is the greatest of all joys, and it is indeed safer than a known way.