As another year comes to a close and we reflect on 2006 while looking forward to 2007, it’s a great time to celebrate God’s grace. I read an article recently that looked at appreciation and anticipation in the context of the New Year’s holiday; a few points were especially salient. Two passages from the Book of Isaiah formed the basis of the text:
In all their distress, he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
I will be your God throughout your
lifetime…I made you, and I will care for you.
We just celebrated an event that underscores God’s deep compassion, mercy, and great love for us…the birth of our Savior. While that undeserved love is something that we think about and give thanks for throughout the year, our appreciation for the magnitude of that great gift is likely heightened during this special season.
Beyond that, though, we know that God’s love was extended to us in countless ways during the course of the entire year. Sometimes it was abundantly clear and easy to see the manifestation of that love, but in other cases, perhaps it wasn’t as obvious…
As you look back on 2006, you’re probably remembering that it wasn’t all a bed of roses! I’m sure it held its share of challenges and trials, perhaps some very serious in nature. I know that’s the case in my home, as we deal with a grim ongoing medical situation.
Isaiah 63:9 reminds us that even when things looked bad, we weren’t alone. Not only was God with us, but he, too, was distressed when we were distressed. When the going gets tough, it always helps when you’ve got a shoulder to lean on – someone who is sympathetic and whom you know cares about you. We can’t forget that we always have that with God.
And what about the close calls we had?
Certainly, there might be some situations that immediately come to mind, but what about the ones we never knew about? Who knows how many calamities we were protected from? We may have even walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” at some point and not known it. God’s protection, particularly when it’s transparent to us and we’re oblivious to how close trouble might be, is an amazing thing to consider.
As we prepare for the new year, we look back on the old one with appreciation and thanks – and can anticipate 2007 knowing that He’s going to walk with us on our journey. Whatever the year has in store for us, good or bad, we have a Companion who will never leave us and who cares deeply for us.
I’ll leave you with a favorite verse for this time of year. Written almost 100 years ago by Minnie Louise Haskins, it’s repeated every January in our newsletter….and is especially fitting this time given the context of what Isaiah had to say:
“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light
that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out
into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That
shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'”