The offensive lineman drove his shoulder into my knee as I was making a tackle. The resulting injury in the first game of my junior year in high school ended my football career. My dreams of following in my father’s footsteps and playing at the next level were crushed.
After my injury I received a note from my oldest sister with the following Scripture verse written out. “And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) These words of comfort and assurance first issued by God through Moses to Joshua, who was preparing to lead the Israelites into the promised land, contain abiding truth for God’s people of every age.
For many of us, 2020 parallels that first game of my junior year. Without warning our worlds have been turned upside-down, our dreams have been dashed, and our fears have been heightened. As we face the new year we are tempted to despair, but it’s high time for God’s people to live in faith and not in fear. We can’t deny the hardships and challenges of 2020, but we can determine to cling to God’s presence, power, and promises in 2021.
Parents are still facing uncertainty regarding their children’s education. Health care workers and educators are still dealing with the emotional realities of contracting COVID, preventing patients and students from getting it, and interacting with their own families who may or may not have it. The elderly are waiting eagerly for a COVID-19 vaccination, the effectiveness of which is still uncertain. Businesses are struggling to make ends meet. With these realities and the uncertainties that 2021 will likely bring, we need not live in fear.
The writer of Hebrews repeats Moses’ words to the believers in the first century: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” So that we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid…” (Hebrews 13:5-6) In the new year, we can rest in the same assurances given to Joshua.
The Sovereign and loving God of the universe “goes ahead of, is present with, will not fail or forsake His children. We are God’s children if we are trusting in Christ’s death as the payment for our sin and in His resurrection as proof of victory over death—but as many as received Him (Jesus) to them gave He the right to become the children of God.” (John 1:12)
God’s children need not fear or be dismayed at what the future holds because we know who holds the future.