The beginning of a new year is traditionally the time people think about resolutions, turning over new leafs or setting goals. All of that is fine, in fact, that is what this article started out to be, but morphed into something else. What it has become remains to be seen. Instead of looking forward to 2017, I want to look back to 2016. This rearward gaze has a purpose. What happened this last year and why? Every year has its ups and downs. What can I learn form what happened in 2016? Can 2017 be better because I’ve taken the time to think seriously about the past?
I invite you to journey with me down memory’s lane. How did 2016 start for you? What were the expectations? Have they been largely met or unmet? What important decisions did you make that you regret or are happy about? What relationships did you deepen or loose? In all these things that transpired in 2016, whether good or bad, what grace of God do you perceive in them, causing you to fall on your knees thanking him. I suspect you’re thinking of at least a few moments you’d rather not thank him for. Me too.
But if we actually believe our Bibles, we will agree that God is in control of all things. It may look at times like he is not, but we can not escape the fact that the Bible presents a vision of reality in which God is in control of all things at all times. If he is in control, what is he up to most of the time? We can never fully know the ways of God, but if we take the time to think about it biblically, we can discern his footprints across our lives. The key is thinking biblically. If we have spent enough time in our bibles coming to grip with the ways of God in the lives of people, then we will see darkly, but none the less see, the ways of God in our circumstances. The ways of God in biblical times are no different than the ways of God today. Do the hard work of digging out his ways from his word.
Fundamental to understanding the ways of God is to know that God made this world good and beautiful, but we wrecked it with our sin, our disobedience. I’m talking about all of us, not just the ones we like to blame. We live in a fallen, broken world. The hope in this picture is that God has purposed to redeem the world. He is making all things new. As Sam said to Gandalf in the great story, The Lord of the Rings: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then, I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?” God is working out his plan of redemption in this fallen world. All sad things will become untrue, but in the meantime many of them are very sad indeed. Ours is to hold true north, knowing – believing that our God is good and working all things together for good. We must heed the command of God in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Spend some reflecting on the mighty hand of God in 2016. It may make all the difference in the world in 2017.