Throughout 2020 there is a good chance that you have found yourself bracing for the next big "problem" to hit. Maybe you have become accustomed to the monthly discouragement, the weekly anxiety, or the daily frustration. Although this year has lingered, it will be over in less than 2 days, if you can believe that.
A lot of people tend to treat the new year as a reset of sorts, a time to start that diet over or to finally read whatever it is that they wanted to read last year but didn't finish... noble causes no doubt, but I'd like to raise a challenge for this new year, as you may have expected.
I agree this year has been rough and Jan 1 is a great time to re-up on some self discipline, but in reality, 2021 will likely hold more failed commitments, more unexpected failure, and yes more COVID-19. After all, it is not as if the click of the clock between one year to the next is going to shift the momentum in any of our lives.
To the unbelieving reader these first three paragraphs definitely seem like a downer, like there is no glimmer of hope. So it is with the gospel.
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
A dark first three verses. The perfect backdrop for the light cast by the mercy and grace found in the sacrifice of the Son of God.
But what about the new year, and the bleak promises of 2021... Well, like the first few verses of Ephesians 2, the everyday battle against the despair and monotony of a fallen and sinful world does in fact have hope beaming through it... Just like the gospel
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
You see, just as God provides for us, in our sin and rebellion, a way to be reconciled to Him, He also provides for us in our day to day endeavors. As surely as He secures the salvation of His people, will He also provide them with mercy on top of mercy to carry them along the journey.
This doesn’t mean that we will spend our earthly life in comfort or in wealth, but rather that God will work together all things in our life so as to bring Himself glory and to draw us closer to Him, shaping us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. In all things, even things we perceive as "bad", God is working to pull us toward Him, to rely more fully on Him.
For a follower of Christ, there is not a single moment that goes by where God is not using our situation to sanctify us. In our failing, in our suffering, and in our joy, we are being made more like Christ.
So in this new year, instead of expecting the tide to change or relying on ourselves to try harder to make this year better, let us turn to Christ. He is the hope of the gospel and He is the hope in our everyday life. His mercies are new every morning, and the morning of January 1st, 2021, is no different.
Strive to finish that book and for goodness sakes finish that diet, but let those things be secondary to the task of pondering the everyday mercy we can find in even the smallest thing. Praise God for His relentless pursuit of our anxious hearts!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”