How to Face the New Year
Facing the New Year is not the same for everyone. Even among those of us who are followers of Christ, all New Years are not equal. The Christmas holidays and the coming New Year may be a cheerful time for many of us, but for some it is a troubling time. And even for those of us who are not of a melancholy bent, reminders of hurtful events and facing an uncertain year can create emotional stress and even dread.
So all of us need to approach the New Year from a Biblical perspective, and in the process set a pattern for ourselves for the rest of the year and even our lives. And it is really not all that complicated. We need to begin by renewing a contrite heart. Nothing is so foreign to human nature than the attitude of contrition. It really takes a work of God’s Spirit, but we are responsible for humbling ourselves before God. Revisit Isaiah’s experience before a holy God who exclaimed; “Woe is me, for I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
Faced with our sins and failures, we can ignore them or wallow in them. Neither is Biblical. We must not ignore our sins. We must own them and confess them. New beginnings are made of confession before God. “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We cannot rush into the New Year without coming clean with God.
But neither should we wallow in the misery of sin. There is a perverse perspective on sin that may convince us that the more we make ourselves feel bad about our sin, the more likely God will look on us with favor. There is certainly a place for grieving over our sins. It is a necessary part of the process. But it is not an end in itself. The goal is the restoration that is only found in the person of Christ.
So begin the New Year by renewing a contrite heart. But we must move on by renewing a confident hope. The New Testament concept of hope is light years away from the “hope so” of modern language. New Testament hope is a sure expectation. Those who know the forgiveness of Christ have every reason to enter the year with hope. The struggles and failures of the past are swallowed up by the mercy and grace of God. The unknown is overcome by the knowledge that our Lord knows all things and orders all things according to His will. Whatever comes our way will be used by our Father for our good and for His glory. As we “press toward the mark of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” we can be confident that our Lord will guide us into His will. So ours is no silly, frivolous faith in faith itself or a giddy sense that everything is going to be alright. We who are saved trust in the living God Who does all things well and gives us this year to live, as long as He gives us breath, each day to His glory. Face this year with a contrite heart and a confident hope in the living God.