New Year’s Eve: Reflection and Anticipation
When the celebrations and fuss of Christmas have subsided, many people gear up for the New Year, which is often another social time with family and friends. Amidst all the excitement and preparations, a sneaky but persistent thought can quietly enter the mind: What will my New Year’s resolutions be?
Each New Year is like turning a page in the story of life. It’s a new beginning and the page is always blank. The new page is waiting to be filled with the next part of each person’s life story. The twists and turns of the plot of life can be complex, or they can be simpler than the average novel. The exciting thing about your story is in the here and now. The decisions you make, the circumstances, environments and people you encounter, all colour the images in your story.
God is the giver of many wonderful new things.
He gives us a new birth (John 3:3), He gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), a new life (2 Cor. 5:17), a new hope (Rom. 5:2), and a new task (Matt. 28:19-20). Finally, when our heart has beat its last, He will give us a new body in a new home called heaven. In fact, God says “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
God has given us another new year. Tonight contains an opportunity that never comes again until another year has passed us by.
There are two main things that happen tonight that normally do not happen any other time during the whole year: reflection, and anticipation. Reflection occurs as we think about our year’s past; Anticipation occurs as we think about our new year’s future.
There was someone in the Bible who reflected on not just his past year, but his past few years and they were very dark—very full of sorrow. In fact, it was the worst few years he had probably ever seen. This person was Jeremiah, and he pens a 5 chapter book, lamenting and sorrowing over what had happened to the nation of Israel.
Israel was in some deep sin, and God sent Jeremiah the prophet to them to call them back to Him in hopes that they would repent and remain faithful to God again. However, Israel did not heed the warnings of Jeremiah to repent and turn to the Lord, so they were destroyed by Babylon. Jeremiah writes the results of this destruction in the book of Lamentations.
But as he describes Israel’s death, their starvation, and their weeping—he pens something that shines brightly, like a brilliant light in a dark, wet, solitary cave; and tells us something about reflecting on the past, and anticipating, looking forward to the future.
We are now reflecting on our past year—we are thinking about all the troubles we had been through—how we didn’t expect them to happen.
We are reflecting on our failures and sins that we struggled with this past year—and how we wish we could go back in time and rewrite our history. We are reflecting on the past New Year’s Resolutions that faded out within the first two months, and we regret that. But according to the Bible, if we want true hope for the future, and power to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions, we need to be reflecting on the faithfulness of God to us in the past year.
Are you pondering, as Jeremiah did, on God’s faithfulness in the past? In what ways did God prove His faithfulness to you this past year?
Not only are we reflecting on our past year, but we are anticipating the one to come. We are anticipating new goals to be fulfilled. We call those New Year’s resolutions, sometimes we even pray for God’s help in fulfilling those resolutions—I read a prayer once about someone who wanted God’s help in fulfilling their resolutions: “Dear God, my prayer for 2022 is a FAT bank account and a THIN body. Please don’t mix it up like you did this year.”
But we are anticipating new opportunities, new relationships, new ministry opportunities, and so many things. But like Jeremiah, we need to anticipate God’s faithfulness in the future. It is always a challenge to trust God for the future, because we don’t know the future. But that’s the awesome thing about God—He knows the future; and calls us to trust Him as a loving Father with our futures. With a new year comes new problems. New difficulties. New troubles. Things that are going to happen to us that we never could’ve imagined on this night. But we need to put our trust now, daily, and throughout the year, in the One who knows our lives (including our futures) from beginning to end. Are you trusting God for the future now? When you think about the new problems you will face—and when they come your way, say with Jeremiah, “This I call to mind, therefore I have hope.”
In conclusion, The hymnist, Frances Havergal penned these words in 1874:
“Another year is dawning;
Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.”
As we celebrate a new year, let us reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past, and anticipate God’s faithfulness for the upcoming year as we trust Him for whatever we may encounter.
Your Spiritual Almanac: A Year of Living Mindfully - Joey Hulin
Restoration Year: A 365 Day Devotional - John Eldredge
Never Alone – Max Lucado
Authentically, Uniquely You: Living Free from Comparison and the Need to Please - Joyce Meyer
We've Never Been This Way Before: Trusting God in Unprecedented Times - R.T. Kendall
You were made for this moment – Max Lucado