Approaching the New Year with Anticipation

When we were kids, giggling and acting silly in the back seat of the car, my dad would sometimes scold us, saying “Cut that out! Before you know it, you’ll be crying.” He was a pessimist – the classic glass-is-half-empty kinda guy. His general mindset on the world was not to enjoy the good times too much, because they might be taken away from you at any moment.

I wear vestiges of my father sometimes when I ponder a new year. If I am saying goodbye to a year that has been good, I will sometimes look forward hesitantly, concerned that if I peer too far into the future I might see sadness, tragedy, or loss. If I’ve had a bad year, I wonder if new sorrows will be added to my collection of tear-soaked memories.

Thankfully, my heavenly Father has a far different perspective than my earthly one. In fact, in Romans 5, He gives us three reasons to enter 2012 with anticipation instead of dread.

The first reason we can anticipate 2012 with eagerness is that God gives us His peace. 

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

I can rest in the confidence that no matter what happens in 2012, I have the promise of the supernatural gift of peace. It defies understanding and description, but its presence is unmistakable. It holds me when my world is rocked, and it cradles me when I am afraid. It testifies that I need not fear the condemnation of God or ever doubt my value and place in His family. My sin debt has been paid, and I am no longer dogged by guilt. I rest in my relationship with Him.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The second reason we can anticipate 2012 with eagerness is that God gives us His grace.

Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand”( Romans 5:2).

Grace is undeserved favor. I can enter 2012 knowing that God does not deal with me as my sins deserve, but instead, because of my faith in Christ, lavishes His grace on me. Grace answers my prayers before I even pray them. Grace provides exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ever hope or imagine. Grace meets me in the dark night and whispers His love into my heart. Grace surprises me with love gifts that come when I least expect them, and sometimes when I fail to recognize them. Grace smiles.

The third reason we can anticipate 2012 with eagerness is that God gives us joy.

“And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

Because God promises me joy, I can rest secure, even during times of trial. There is immeasurable comfort in knowing that nothing happens in my life apart from God’s plan and purpose, and His purpose for me is always good. Always. He is not a capricious God who randomly administers doses of pain to balance out my times of happiness. In the words of Ruth Myers,

“I praise you for your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted. . . And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on. Thank you that I can move into the future non-defensively, with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, for You hold the future”.*

I hope as you enter into 2012, you will walk into it non-defensively, embracing the peace, grace, and joy that God has provided for you this new year.

Happy New Year!

* (Myer, Ruth. 31 Days of Praise, Multnomah Publishers,1994, p 49).

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