What kind of year will 2013 be? I suppose it depends on who you ask. At the beginning of each new year, there are those who make predictions on what the year will bring. These are usually written concerning the areas of economics, scholarship, politics, entertainment, fashion, and the like. Yet what about spiritual matters? What about the church? What can we, as Christians, expect to see in the year ahead?
It’s easy to be gloomy and there are no shortage of reasons to justify that sentiment. But I don’t want to project that. I also don’t want to go to the other extreme of painting a rosy picture of the present and ignoring the challenges we face. We need a balanced perspective. From the outset, we must understand that being a Christian in America is most definitely not the same as being a Christian in a nation like Pakistan. We practically live in a bubble by comparison. That may change over time–who knows. Yet for the time being, we need to take advantage of the freedoms we still have to openly proclaim the Gospel in our land.
There are plenty of problems in our culture, the economy, and within the civil state. The church is no exception. Churches where the Gospel is faithfully preached are less and less in our nation. In the midst of all this, I cannot help but express the joyful hope I have for the future. My hope is not in the fleeting things of this world, but in that Kingdom which cannot be shaken. I don’t say this as some token, sentimental response to the decay I see around me or simply to make myself feel better. I say these things because they are true. The temporal will always give way to the eternal.
In the Dermer household, we have decided to make the concept of Christian contentment our focus for 2013. No matter how bad things get in the world around us or even within the church, we are infinitely blessed if we are in Christ. How much more, then, should we be content in the day-to-day details of life? If we can bear the calamities of a collapsing culture and massive apostasy within the church, then we should be especially content when it comes to the small stuff. As the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs said,
Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy me in every condition.
Our health may fail us. Our wealth may dry up. We may even lose family members. I have no idea what 2013 will bring, but I have every reason to be confident in what God is going to do. I trust that He will take care of me because He is a God of promise and takes cares of His people. As radical as it sounds, our sufferings ought to be seen as abundant blessings. We are being refined for better use in the Kingdom. Our contentment in times of trouble is grace in itself. Whatever happens, we know that this is the best of all possible worlds.