My great grandfather told me of three different years when adverse conditions brought about a crop failure on his farm. I shudder to think of how challenging it was for him and my great grandmother to endure those hardships and then enter the next growing season fraught with uncertainty.
For many of us, 2023 was a challenge that could make us, like my great-grandparents, a bit apprehensive as we face a new year. I offer a few spiritual “New Year’s Realizations” to help strengthen and sustain us in 2024.
Remember God’s sovereignty. He is in complete control in spite of all that is happening in our chaotic world. He doesn’t always shield us from adversity, but He stays with and sustains His followers as we walk this bumpy road of life. A pagan king was brought to the realization that “He (God) does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth…” (Daniel 4:35). Let us embrace what we recently sang, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
Request God’s mercy individually when we realize that our sinful self-directed life of rebellion deserves His wrath, and claim by faith Christ’s death as the payment we owe so we can experience His undeserved forgiveness and be reconciled to Him (Romans 5:1,9-10). Pray for mercy upon our leaders, those in authority, and the people of our country that God would convict them of sin, convince them to repent, and compel them to follow Him “so we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Resist God’s enemy in two realms. As followers of Christ we personally “submit to God, resist the devil…” (James 4:7) by continually bringing our conduct and conscious thoughts into alignment with God’s truth, resisting the enemy’s temptations and lies. Socially, at work, in classrooms, with families, among neighborhoods, and through entertainment, believers are continually pressured to consent to and celebrate what God condemns. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” (Isaiah 5:20). Confronting the evils of child sacrifice, greed, tyranny, racism, human trafficking, dishonesty, and immorality promoted by a culture at war with God is not harmful but helpful in directing sinful people to saving grace. We are to “abhor what is evil and cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
Rest in Christ’s victory. “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) His victory is ultimately shared in by all who believe in Him (John 3:16).
Lord help us make these realizations realities.