Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
In his book A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens has given the literary world one of the greatest statements of all time. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” This so aptly describes our age and our world.
We have come through another year and reached its pinnacle. We look back now, in hindsight on the events in our lives and the world around us. A valley is behind us and a new one stretches out before us. For most of us it was indeed the best of times and the worst of times. We have changed as has the world around us.
So, we take pause and reflect, and look back with thoughts and words that help us recall significant dates and holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, adversity and suffering, sadness and happiness. There is a heaviness of heart for all we longed and hoped would have turned out differently.
It is a fact of life the longer we walk with God the more we are dependent on his grace in our journey.
I have walked with God for more than 50 years now, and, like many of you, Jesus has led me through many valleys and without fail to the pinnacle yet again. He is indeed merciful and gracious! What I discover in every New Year, in every season, in every stage of life Christ invites us to face it with faith, hope and courage. Life is hard, but God is good!
We read in Hebrews 12:1-3 that “we are surrounded by such a great of cloud of witnesses” who have completed their journey. We are called on to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” so that will not “grow weary and lose heart.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in a Christmas sermon December 1933, “Can and should there be anything else more important for us than the hammers and blows of Jesus Christ coming into our lives?” Bonhoeffer makes the point that the Incarnation of the Son of God teaches us to wait, to watch, and to experience the journey along with Christ as he walks with us, sometimes in the dark, as we are never without his light. Why? Because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28).” This said Bonhoeffer, “Is the hope of the Incarnation: the coming of a deliverer, the drawing near of God to humankind, the arrival of Christ our rescuer in flesh like ours.”
Scripture reminds us God’s mercies “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). He is truly, as the hymn writer penned, “our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”