The promise of a new year. The assurance of a year past. Hmmm . . . what can this mean? As I begin in Genesis and the creation account, my mind is on things new, new beginnings and all.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1). Just can’t help but think about newness, about beginnings, about hope. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (1:31). It wasn’t long, though, before Adam and Eve sinned and the entire creation was tainted. What should we think? Well, sin and death entered, but God promised a redeemer. Abel was murdered, but God gave Seth to Adam and Eve. Generation after generation came and went and, then, there was Noah. Sin had run rampant, and judgment came in the flood, but then there was the rainbow. And children continued to be born and the earth repopulated even as men turned away from God. And there was the scattering at Babel, but then there was Terah, who traveled out of Ur of Babylon along with his family, and God spoke to Abram there in Haran and made wonderful covenant promises to him.
Always it seemed as if trouble was present or right around the corner. In fact, that’s a pretty accurate summation, I think. But, always, God was present. And, always, God responded and gave hope. The headlines of the day have written the epitaph of 2020 in terrible, bold capitals, for instance: “The Year That Stopped the World” & “A Look Back at a Trying Year.” And those are a couple of the kindest takes on 2020. And, yet, here we are!
It didn’t take me long, on this New Years Day, to remember that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. I am here, alive, today, knowing God’s mercies. And all that on the heels of what many are saying has been the worst year of their lives. But God has walked with us. To Israel he promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2,3). Here’s the assurance of Genesis 1-12 and of 2020! We have been through much, but our God has walked with us and sustained us. Let the world and Satan throw what they will against us; yet, we have this assurance!
Of course, there is the new year, also. We make much of the passing on our calendars from December 31 to January 1. And it is a big deal for bookkeeping and accounting and the implementation of new laws and the empowering of new governments, etc., etc. But the realities that were with us, yesterday, are with us, today. Not a lot has changed (God certainly has not!). But we do find ourselves, on this day, focusing more on the future than the past and hoping for a really good year. Here’s the thing, though, every year lived with the hope of the gospel and with the fellowship of God and of God’s people is a good year, a very good year, indeed! And, so, we await the coming days and anticipate what God will do and what he will show us. And, as we hope with a sure hope, we have the assurance of 2020 that, whatever the day brings, our God is good, and he is faithful, and he loves us so. That’s not a bad way to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, I think.