If one is ever found to be in a mood of reflection, it is almost always as one year ends and another begins. For many, heading into a new year is a time of great anticipation. In business, those who performed well financially in the previous year look forward to the start of a new one. The same can often be said for those who have progressed in areas of education and sports or, experienced growth in their families or improvements in their health. But for many others it can be a fearful time; a time of continued struggle in the face of an unknown future.
As I look back on the past year I can’t help but think of those who have been or are still hurting. Loss in the form of employment, relationships, good health and loved one’s plague society. Knowing this to be a reality for many, I empathize with those who are fearful or even dread the thought of facing another year. When thinking on the future in front of them, I’m wondering what truths could be found in Christ that could give them the strength to move forward. Thankfully many are found for those whose trust is placed in Jesus Christ and I outline 4 that I pray encourage you to boldly, courageously and confidently face the uncertain future.
- When hardship or suffering happens, we’re are often left with the question of why. Scripture found in John 16 v 33 flips the question of why in reading the following:“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”In saying “you will have tribulation”, Jesus is stating that we will struggle, we will suffer. Now I understand that you might say, “Sean, how is this encouraging?” and I get it but, the answer is found in the heads up. It is not a question of why but when and anger doesn’t have to consume me as Christ didn’t promise perfection in this life.
- The above stated, in my flesh I would still want to know; as if to somehow avoid the problem. The reality is I don’t know but, there is one who does as revealed in reading Psalm 139 v 1 – 4 and Isaiah 46 v 10.“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”In these words, I gain confidence in the fact that my Savior knows all and as a good friend and fellow Pastor often said, “If God brings you to it, He will see you through it”.
Before I go on I must confess that the thought of God knowing and allowing suffering can be hard for even Christians to understand and accept but knowing the Creator to be greater than the creation, I move forward encouraged.
- Knowing that we all suffer, including the Christ, it is an encouragement to know that Jesus thought of us as he faced the pain of the cross. In reading John 17 we encounter Jesus praying and in his prayers, he focuses on three areas; himself, the disciples and all us believers.Despite all he had been through and was about to go through, his thoughts where on us and that he would be with us as stated in verse 26, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” That in the end I would see his glory, with him, as stated in verse 24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”For the non-believer thinking what about me, know that he wants relationship with you as his creation. 2 Peter 3 v 9 confirms this in stating:
“The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- In Christ, we don’t have a Savior who is unable to relate to our struggle. This is affirmed in our reading of Hebrews 4 v 15 which states:“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.”As a man Jesus endured all we endure today and more than that, suffered all for our sake. 1 Peter 2 v 24 states:
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His stripes you are healed.”
In these words, Jesus relates to us so that we in turn would relate and turn to him and so be healed; eternally.
In closing this out, I refer to a saying I’ve heard many times in my life, “Out with the old; in with the new”. It is my prayer that as we contemplate all that has been said, that we would flush out all the lies and the fears of years past. In purging the waste, take hold of the new life found in the living God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, live.