If there’s one thing I keep hearing, then it’s the lament among many people that 2016 was a horrible year. My social media feed was filled with numerous (and at times, humorous) examples of this theme, with most commentators wanting to hasten the arrival of 2017. For Christians, the turn of the year is a time to the reflect upon the providences of the past year–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s also a time to make goals for the new year and start new Bible-reading plans. While the temptation is always there to forget all the hard times of the previous year, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Lord ordained those painful times for a purpose–and for our good.
The new year brings new opportunities. Lessons learned from difficult times in previous years serve to help us as we start afresh. There will numerous opportunities to grow, obey, and minister to others. In this new year, the Lord has already ordained that you will have opportunities to share the Gospel with others. Within the Kingdom itself, there will be moments in which your experiences will enable you to better serve those brothers/sisters who need counsel and wisdom. Right now is the time for us to pray that we would step outside of our areas of comfort in order to expand our opportunities–to do things we wouldn’t normally do.
2016 was another very difficult year for our family. We were expecting a respite from the hard providences of the previous year, but that God had other plans for us. In the end, we know that He knows best and trust in His sovereign will. Through it all, we learned many valuable lessons and many other things were revealed to us. Painful as it is to look back upon this year, I am amazed and thankful that the Lord preserved us every step of the way. Things could have been much worse in many ways.
I think my word for 2017 will be “foundations.” This word came to mind as I thought back to Psalm 11:3, especially considering what we’ve been through over the past two years. Personally, I need to reorient my focus back to basics: prayer, devotions, family life, health, finally finding a church home, etc. It will be a year to step back and restore the foundations of life. There’s so much negativity out there that contemplating the world can be very overwhelming. Day to day life can be enough of a challenge for many people, but it becomes all the more daunting when we consider what’s happening in our nation and the broader world around us.
One practice must remain constant every year: killing sin. This is a lifelong war like no other and one we can’t afford to lose. As John Owen said, be about the business of killing sin or it will kill you. With this in mind, let us press on into the new year, putting on the full armor of God every step of the way.