The transition from December 31 to January 1 is just a change from one day to the next. But January 1 is not just a new day or even the start of a new month: it’s a whole new calendar of blank pages, full of hope and possibilities.
The most prevalent hope I hear is that life gets “back to normal,” especially in regard to the coronavirus. We’d love for it go away completely, or at lease recede to rare occurrences, like the swine flu or the bird flu. We want to go about our business without worrying about exposure and masks how many people are gathered in one place.
It’s harder to hope for some of the other issues prevalent during the last year. We still have a long way to go in race relations. And I don’t know if the political landscape will ever improve.
But desiring normalcy for the last several months has led me to wonder—what’s normal, anyway?
America has always had its troubles, but we’ve had it a good deal better than many. We have poverty here, but people who travel to third-world countries are often stunned by the breadth and depth of poverty in other places. Some countries are almost perpetually in a state of war. Some areas are rife with corruption. Armed guards regularly patrol some streets. Some citizens risk their lives to vote.
Through the Bible, Israel was in captivity to Egypt 400 years, Babylon 70 years. Most of their rulers were evil.
Early Christians were persecuted under wicked emperors. More recent believers suffered under Communist oppression. Many are persecuted in several countries even now.
The prophet Habakkuk complained to the Lord:
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:3b-4)
He basically asked God, “What are you going to do about this?
God replied that he was sending the “dreaded and fearsome” Chaldean army (vv. 5-11).
Habakkuk wonders, “What? You can’t let that happen!”
But in their further conversation, God established that He can and He will. But, He says, “but the righteous shall live by his faith” (2:4b).
By the end of chapter 3, Habakkuk concludes that, though his body trembles and lip quivers (3:16):
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places. (3:17-19)
I hope with everything in me that life improves on every front this year. But whatever happens, these are some of the truths I carry with me:
- God is good, even if circumstances aren’t.
- God is at work, even if it doesn’t look like it.
- God loves me, even if life is hard.
- My job is the same: trust in Him, live for Him, rejoice in Him, love Him, grow in Him, fortify and feed myself with His Word.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses repeated God’s instruction to Israel before they entered the promised land after 40 years of wilderness wandering. One of the things He promised them was:
But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)
Though our context is different, I think we can take comfort and courage in these same truths. Through the “hills and valleys” of the coming year, God eyes are on us and He cares for us.
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Selah, Tell His Story, Instaencouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)