On January 1, 2020, New Year’s Day, I preached on Psalm 39 (text between the asterisks**). It’s hard to believe that, into a few months of 2020, we are dealing with an unexpected hardship like the one right now. But believers in Christ are never without hope. They move forward in trust in the Lord, as they patiently wait!
**“As you enter this year, what will it bring? Gladness or grief? Laughter or tears? We know that it will bring both, by God’s leading. Sometimes we will go to the house of feasting. Other times we will go the house of mourning. But, through it all, when we ask God to bless us in our struggles, He will make us glad.
Trouble and sorrow – it’s all part of our own human experience. We are grass that flourishes and grows up, but in the evening it is cut down and withers….. This why we turn to the Lord in prayer, as we must do again at the Year End and New Year, praying that the Lord would be gracious to us in our years of affliction.
Trials are really blessings that we never ask for, because through trials we are matured and made more complete. This is why God allows them. You groan and cry in the midst of them; but know that they are used of Him. He can make you joyful through them.
James 1 comes to mind, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’
How do we handle life when things threaten our well being? We must turn to the Lord and pray for His help and strength. We say, ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.’ We pray, ‘Lord, make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.’ ‘Help us, Lord. Help us to carry on your strength, though we don’t know what is ahead of us, nor can we predict our future.’
We also need to pray that we might find satisfaction in the Lord’s unfailing love. Alexander Maclaren wrote, ‘The only thing that will secure life-long gladness is a heart satisfied with the experience of God’s love.’ O what encouraging word that is. We can only find our satisfaction in the grace of Jesus Christ. As Saint Augustine once prayed, ‘You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they find rest in you.’
We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. We don’t know what this year has in store for us. But we can pray that God’s mercy would be upon us all our days….
As one Puritan prayed in his prayer for the New Year:
‘I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation, thou wilt be with me in them.
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, I shall not drown.
If I am to die, I shall see your face the sooner.
If a painful end is to be my lot, grant me grace that my faith fail not.
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love, I can make not stipulation.
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial, as a chosen vessel ready always for thy use…’ [The Valley of Vision, p 111].
May that be our prayer – a prayer that God’s mercy would be upon us all our days…. Mercy for each moment. Mercy for those trying times. Mercy to handle what the Lord may put on our plates. Mercy for the dying hour. O how we need the mercy of God!
For, in Christ, your life isn’t a mere vapour.
In Christ, your days don’t merely end in the shadows.
In Christ, your end has a purpose. It is found in His beauty and in His power.
Therefore, in the year 2020, may the Lord be your perfect vision. May He give you perfect 20/20 vision as you look to Him.
May all Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the
Holy Spirit! Amen.”**
We may wish we could hit the rewind button on 2020 and start over. Instead it is even better for us. We move forward with hope in Christ. “Be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8).
Pastor Rich Anjema