Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)
Well, the Mayans let us down, and the world did not end as predicted on December 21, 2012. Now we have 2013 for which to look forward, and if any credence can be given to the media, the prospects are not too promising. As I write this, Congress has yet to arrive on a budget agreement that will keep the nation from going over the fiscal cliff. The real unemployment rate is hovering around 17%, the housing market is in the tank, and it looks like we are headed for another recession. The European Union is on the verge of financial collapse. The Middle East is on fire. Israel fights for its existence as Hamas rains down rockets on the Israeli population. Iran is bent on developing atomic weapons for the sole purpose of destroying Israel. North Korea continues test firing rockets that will have the potential of reaching our shores. Russia continues to supply Iran with the raw materials and technology to develop their atomic weapons. Meanwhile their nuclear ballistic missile submarines are patrolling our coastal waters as an act of defiance to the perceived impotence of our governmental and military leadership. Happy New Year!
On the surface, there seems to be little hope. Even so, the prospect of a new year always comes with the glimmer of hope that things can be better. The New Year is a step forward into the unknown. There is no way of knowing what is up ahead; there is only hope. In our passage above, the Children of Israel had completed their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness and were preparing to enter the Promise Land. Moses, who had been the only leader they had ever known, was dead. In his place, Joshua had been commissioned to lead the people in the conquest of their new homeland. Forty years before, he had been one of two of the twelve spies that returned with a good report about the land God had given them. The other ten only saw the strength of the enemy and their own weakness and were fearful of taking on the challenge. Now, they were once again at the frontier of the Promise Land. The enemy they had feared forty years earlier was still in the land; nothing had changed. They would still have to enter, fight for and conquer the land. Even if their circumstances had not changed, neither had the promise of God changed. “And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD” (Exodus 6:8). It had always been so; the inheritance was theirs for the taking, but they had to take it, and God was their guarantee. So here they were once again at the precipice of the unknown, but they carried with them the promise of God: “the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).
So, we are faced with another new year with an uncertain future. No matter what that future may hold, we can rest on that same promise that the LORD our God is with us wherever we go and in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves. We can trust that “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). We can know that God is always at our side and “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
God’s blessings on you and yours in the coming new year; may you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!