|Posted on January 8, 2019 at 2:30 PM|
Considering what lies ahead in 2019 I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I am excited about the possibilities and new opportunities God has provided for us both individually and collectively as the Church in the Woods. On the other hand, however, I have a nagging sense of dread concerning the opposition and suffering that’s always present in this fallen world we live in. Naturally I would like to focus only on the good God has in store for us this next year. But realistically I know the bad and even the ugly will be there as well. In order to handle my feelings about 2019 I’m going to have exercise a little faith in the Word of God.
I begin with the fact that the bad and ugly that lies ahead will not shock me. In 1 Peter 4: 12 we are warned, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened unto you.” In this present world “stuff happens” and should not come as any shock or surprise to we who live in it. Unfortunately, many baby Christians think they can make a deal with God to behave themselves so that he won’t let anything bad happen to them or those they love. But God doesn’t make that kind of a deal with his children. In fact, as Paul said in Philippians 1: 29, “For unto you is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” we may expect opposition and suffering to come in the year ahead.
Expecting such opposition and suffering in 2019, however, doesn’t mean we have to give up in despair. Our faith in the Word of God allows us the ability to see what the rest of the world can’t. By faith (“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11: 1) we can see the end at the beginning. We can see and know the result of our suffering at the very beginning. We can know that what looks to be bad at the beginning will turn out being good for us in the end. God’s grace will allow us to endure, grow, and ultimately rejoice in the trials we must face in the coming year.
This “eternal view of suffering” gives us the hope of overcoming any and all the bad and ugly things that may come our way this next year. In fact, it gives us the calm assurance that comes from knowing that in Christ we cannot lose. Such hope (confident and joyful expectation of our future) allows us to focus on the good that God has planned for us instead of worrying about the bad and the ugly that may come. Our faith in the Word of God gives us the hope we need to face this new year with confidence regardless of what threats may appear.
Our faith in the Word of God does not stop with giving us the confidence and assurance we need for the new year. The experience of genuine hope frees us to consider others around us as well. That confident and joyful expectation of 2019 frees us from our natural self-centered concerns long enough to care about and even love others. Alleviating my mixed emotions about the coming year is not the ultimate goal. If you haven’t noticed by now God is not just concerned with making you feel better even though that does happen. He is concerned with you fulfilling his high calling in Christ Jesus to love others even as Jesus loves us. Our real purpose in this world is not to be comfortable, happy, and go on vacation. Our purpose is to love others the way Jesus loves us. Adopting the “eternal view of suffering” by faith in the Word of God gives us the hope we need to freely love others just like Jesus throughout the new year.