There is a lot of pain and hardship in the world today, writes Catherine Campbell, but there is still a reason to have hope for the new year because Jesus has already gone ahead of us.
Crossing from one year to another seems to bring with it a magical perception that when Big Ben strikes midnight things will be better. We leave the old behind and on the New Year’s blank slate one word is written that cheers our hearts: HOPE.
Last year was no different. Following a period of national mourning we had hoped that a coronation would lift the country’s spirits. Our personal hopes and dreams were not dissimilar. Fireworks exploding against the night sky hailed the exuberance with which we desired to greet each of the 365 days ahead. Yet here we stand at year’s end with the fading letters of HOPE barely recognisable on the slate of a year many would describe as disastrous.
Ukraine and Russia remain at war, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now grips the attention of a watching world. Changing weather patterns have stripped countries and communities of homes, livelihoods, and many of their citizens. Volcanoes simmer in Iceland and Sicily, while discontent at home rages as never before with strikes, financial and personal concerns, to say nothing of poor governmental decisions. Many are fearful for the future. Perhaps HOPE may not be the standout word chalked on the blank slate of 2024.
Many are fearful for the future. Perhaps HOPE may not be the standout word chalked on the blank slate of 2024.
Yet, in this post-Fall world we live in hasn’t there always been darkness? Have wars ever ceased in the history of mankind? Is contentment ever a reality in the human psyche? Or personal satisfaction a constant in our lives?
Having cared for two profoundly disabled daughters I’ve discovered that God’s Light shines brightest in the darkness. To lean on someone, you must be close, and nothing moves you closer to Jesus than pain. Nothing sends you looking for his strength more than recognising your own weakness. And nothing dispels fear like the company of the Saviour on the journey. No one is more patient for us to learn these truths than the One who experienced the pain and horror of the Cross … for us.
Jesus has not gone away. Instead, he waits for us to shift our gaze from the uncertainty around us and to focus on him
Thankfully, long after the tree comes down and the twinkling lights are switched off, “Emmanuel,” is still “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus has not gone away. Instead, he waits for us to shift our gaze from the uncertainty around us and to focus on him. And through the lens of eternal perspective we begin to see things differently. Hope changes from wishing to certainty, for nothing will take Jesus by surprise in 2024. He’s already there.
Read more on the new year
There is no formula for leaning on Jesus. It is a natural progression: an expression of loving trust that grows from the intimacy we experience when we centre our lives on him.
We need not fear a new year if the word on its blank slate is JESUS, “for in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13).