Surrounded by many forces that threaten to destroy us and against which we are completely helpless – in the midst of thousands of dangers, from which there appears to be no escape – these and other things may cause many hearts to be anxious at the approach of a new year. If the past year has brought loss, sorrow and tribulation, the prospect may seem even darker if our eyes see only the unrest in the world instead of looking to God.
It would be terrible to walk towards a dark future if we had to believe, as some seem to, that we are tossed around by blind and merciless fate on the sea of life. Only the true Christian confidently approaches the new year, for he knows it is not blind coincidence but an almighty and loving Father who stands at the helm of his life. He will lead us through all waves, rocks, and reefs, and safely bring us to the haven of rest and joy.
This loving Father has given His children precious promises, all verified by Jesus Christ, in His word. There is no situation in the life of a Christian for which the Holy Scriptures do not have a promise. Let us take a look at a few of these precious gems to comfort, encourage and strengthen our faith for the beginning of the new year.
One of the first of these precious promises is the comforting “Do not be afraid!”, which we often read in God’s Word. – When Abraham, a stranger among the Canaanite tribes, had returned from the slaughter with the kings, he was likely somewhat disheartened. He may have also been afraid the conquered kings would return with renewed strength and annihilate him who was without any allies. Then the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1)
When the Philistines harassed Isaac and he had to move from place to place, the Lord said to him, “Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you” (Gn 26:24).
The Lord gives us another wonderful promise through the prophet Isaiah. He says, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you’ ” (Isaiah 43:1–2). We can insert our own name and trust the Lord to help us in every situation.
We also find the Lord saying “Do not be afraid!” in the New Testament. When Jairus came to Jesus with the plea to heal his deathly ill daughter, the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid: only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50). – We hear the same words directed to His group of disciples, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
“Do not be afraid!” should also be our motto for the new year. Even though our foes may be numerous and mighty, and may be shooting their arrows at us, the Lord is our shield. All hostile arrows will ricochet off Him without hurting us.
When Moses, God’s servant, was in distress due to the disobedience of the people of Israel, God gave him the assurance, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” That is a wonderful word of encouragement at the beginning of a new year!
Our work may be difficult and our road may be rough, but we can be confident. If our feet walk the way of the Lord and we remember Him in all we do, He will guide us true.
Before His departure, Jesus gave His disciples the command, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The disciples could have shied away from such a command. However the resurrected Conqueror gave them this assurance along with the command, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He was with them and gave them victory.
The same Jesus who was given all authority in heaven and on earth, is also with us. With Him we can overcome the largest obstacles and solve the most difficult issues. With Him we can also confidently go into the new year and with Paul triumphantly cry, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).