God is the source of hope for the New Year

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Lots of people are gathering food and party supplies to ring in the New Year with snacks and togetherness. Some folks (like my family) are planning a quiet evening of movie watching. And then? Well, the New Year will begin, and we’ll all get back into our routines. And, if previous years are any indication, the momentum we gathered at the beginning of the year will run out about a month into it.

And there are all sorts of explanations. It might be a lack of discipline. It might be general laziness. It might be too much stress or too little sleep or both. Many factors play a role in derailing resolutions. But in my experience, there’s nothing that can derail me worse than a loss of purpose or direction. If I don’t know where I’m going or if I don’t have a goal to reach, I wander. I hesitate. I second guess myself. I give up. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

 

nature-flowers-plant-springToday’s verse is Romans 15:13.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

People have to have hope. You can’t live without it. Love lasts forever, yes, and your faith can fail. Mine does often. But if I ever lose hope, I’ll stop completely. I’ll lose faith if I lose hope. I’ll stop loving if I lose hope. My hope in the Lord gives me the strength to have faith, to love people who don’t love me in return.

When we get home and receive everything God has promised us, we won’t need our hope anymore. But while we live on earth, hope is a necessity. And fortunately for us, God has given us everything we need to cling to hope in Him. He’s demonstrated His goodness. He’s proven His Word. He’s shown us that He never makes mistakes and He always keeps His promises.

When you know God like that, you trust Him, and when you trust Him, He gives you joy and peace. At that point, your hope becomes something confident, something unbreakable, something unquenchable. And that’s how I want to face 2016, with unquenchable hope.

Don’t mistake hope with naivete, though. I think a lot of people do. Just because you hold on to hope doesn’t mean you’re living in denial. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the facts. It just means that you’re placing your trust in Someone who is big enough to make all the negative facts work together into a positive result.

2016 is going to bring a lot of challenges, but you know what? God is bigger than the challenges I’m facing, and I trust Him completely. So the hope I have in Him can be confident, because He is where hope comes from.

Advertisements
Winding road through the Guatemalan jungle, Peten, Guatemala

When God does something new, it’s always impossible

In less than 24 hours, a new year begins. 2015. 2015? I was looking at a list of upcoming movies the other day, and the summary of one stood out to me. It’s a sequel, and the directors have set it 22 years after the original movie released. Then, I remembered that the original movie released in 1993. And the sequel is releasing–and is set–in 2015. I remember 1993. I remember 1993 very well. And that was 22 years ago?

Gosh.

New years are always exciting because it’s a chance to do something different. It’s a fresh start for everyone. That’s where the idea of resolutions came from. The desire to start over, to live life differently, to make better (usually healthier) choices. Something new isn’t always appealing, especially to those of us who dislike change, but new is important.

God is always up to something new. He’s always got some project He’s working on, and while we may not understand all the pieces, the whole is always undeniably good. Because He is good.

Winding road through the Guatemalan jungle, Peten, Guatemala

Winding road through the Guatemalan jungle, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verses are Isaiah 43:16-19.

I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
“But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

It’s one thing for us to make a New Year’s Resolution. It’s something else for God to do something new. Why?

Well, for one, if God promises that He’ll do something, He’ll actually do it. When was the last time you met someone who actually kept a New Year’s Resolution? They’re hard to keep. You have to be pretty dang stubborn.

What the prophet Isaiah is actually talking about in this passage is the birth of Christ. That was certainly something the world has never seen before–or since. But if you look at your own life, you’ll see how God is working on a day-to-day basis, accomplishing things in you and through you that you never thought possible.

When God does something new, He always does the impossible. Have you seen a path through the wilderness? Have you seen rivers in a desert?

God wants to do something new in your life, but the trick is trusting Him enough to let Him. It’s easy to cling to the same-old, same-old in your life because you know it, you understand it, you can halfway control it (you think). Stepping back and letting go of the life you understand is terrifying, and giving it over to God is doubly so. Giving up control in your life is petrifying.

But God is always up to something new. And it will always be impossible. And it will always be good.

So wherever you are on this New Year’s Eve 2014, consider letting go of your life. The harder you hold on to it, the more of it will slip away. Let God have it. Let God do what He wants with it, and your 2015 might be bigger and better and more impossible than you ever imagined.