New Year

Real Hope for a New Year

Many of us are familiar with the massive annual New Year’s Eve celebration that takes place in New York City, but fewer people are aware of the Good Riddance event that takes place in Times Square several days prior.

Good Riddance Day is inspired by a Latin American tradition in which New Year’s revelers stuffed dolls with objects representing bad memories before setting them on fire. The annual event . . . is open to the public to join Shred-it in destroying any unpleasant, embarrassing and downright unwanted memories from 2016 to pave the way for new memories in 2017.

I’ve noticed that as 2016 comes to a close, a large number of people feel the need to say goodbye to a year that was filled with personal difficulties, political turmoil, and the deaths of beloved celebrities.

But isn’t that what happened at the end of 2015? If I remember correctly, a large number of people couldn’t wait to put 2015 in the rear view mirror. Evidently, 2016 didn’t live up to its expectations.

What Gives Us Real Hope for a New Year?

What is the rationale behind thinking that a new year will be any better than the old? Perhaps, we feel as though the end of an old year and the beginning of a new is something like the half-time of a ball game. “Sure, the first half was miserable, but we can turn things around after the intermission!” Such positive thinking is hopeful, but ball teams don’t just wish for better. They make adjustments to their playbooks at half-time.

On what do we base our hope? On our own limited abilities? On a frail political system? On some sort of mystical wishful thinking?

As one year ends and a new one begins, do we take time to reflect on our priorities, attitudes, and actions? Do we forgive those who have hurt us and seek to make amends to broken relationships? And what about faith? Do we even consider the depth of our faith and how it influences our day-to-day lives?

The magnitude of this world far surpasses that of our individual lives. Not one of us is in control of his or her own destiny, because even with our best efforts, powerful forces can destroy all that we own and all that we are in an instant. It’s like the quote from a man whose home and farm were destroyed several years ago by a tornado: “What took me thirty years to build was destroyed in five minutes.”

If our hope is misplaced, our chances for a better tomorrow remain minimal.

Real Hope Rests in God

Those who have entered into a new covenant relationship with the Creator of the Universe can look forward to a real, substance-filled hope. We serve a God who promises to turn every difficulty toward a good and better purpose.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Life on this planet hasn’t always been kind to me, but yet again, I enter a new year with a profound sense of real hope.

Let’s be honest; a paper shredder is powerless to eliminate the stain of our past failures and the lingering impact of painful memories. But the blood of Jesus can cleanse the worst of our sins and turn even the worst memory into something valuable.

No, I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know the God who holds tomorrow—the One who is greater than all the forces of this world, greater than all of the haters in society, and even greater than our own weaknesses.

What gives us real hope for a new year? Living it as a child of the living God!