What are you looking forward to in the New Year? The common answer that I hear is for things to return to how they were. As attractive as this may sound, I wonder if this is really what we want. My guess is that we are simply wanting to leave the troubles of 2020 behind.
If that describes you, then possibly a better course of action might be to follow Patti LaBelle’s advice, “When you take your troubles to God, you may have them but they don’t have you.” When we take our troubles to God we can “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Knowing that God cares for us allows us to put our trust in him rather than in ourself or others.
While we know that a date change on the calendar won’t make the pandemic go away, nor will it solve our societal woes, we may still be tempted to place our hope there. We want to simply hit the proverbial reset button on 2020 and get a fresh clean start in 2021. Understanding this desire will allow us to embrace the biblical hope that is expressed in God’s promise to “make everything new!” (Revelation 21:5)
Entropy, the second law of thermodynamics describing the gradual decline into disorder, doesn’t merely apply to the physical universe, but it also speaks to our spiritual dilemma. In Romans, Paul describes it, saying, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12) This was reversed when Christ stepped into time to bring change to everything and make all things new.
In Christ we are promised new life through a new covenant. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 Paul describes the new covenant saying, “This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.” Hebrews tells us it is a better covenant because it “speaks of forgiveness”. (12:24)
It is because of the forgiveness that Christ brings to those who have placed their faith in him that we can find the promised new life.
As entropy is clear in our physical world, it is equally important for us to see that without a new beginning, we will remain trapped in the sin and death we have inherited from Adam.
What then is our answer? Rather than hoping for change in the New Year, we are wise to stop and see what God is doing today to give us hope. Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 MSG) What was it that Patti LaBelle said? “When you take your troubles to God, you may have them but they don’t have you.”
If you have been feeling that your troubles are owning you, then take them to God. In releasing them into His arms, finding new life, you will become a new person, “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17)
Knowing this restored hope will bring us the new life we need and bring us a refreshed view of the New Year. And having this new hope, will can sing a new song, “Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!” (Psalm 98:1)
I pray that as January 1 approaches that you can break free from the cycle of placing hope in an uncertain future so that you can embrace the everlasting hope that God brings to those who believe. When you do, you can sing a new song of hope with a melody that comes not from what you can do, from the economy, or anything else but comes from the Lord alone.
Eldon Peterson is pastor of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship. His column appears on the Faith page. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.