“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33b)
As we look forward to 2023 from the start of it, we might feel anxious or wondering about what might happen this year. God’s people have felt this way for generations, in the midst of tumultuous change and huge negative historical events. Military empires rise and fall when we look back in history, but living through their expansion meant wondering if I and my family might live or die soon.
The disciples lived through their Master dying and rising. In the midst of his Upper Room discourses, just before he died, he reminds them that trouble in this broken world is certain, but that he has overcome the world. We too are living in a time of losses and are wondering what the next ones might be. God helps us through our losses. God also gives us unexpected hope. The resurrection of Jesus is proof.
Jesus tries to shift our focus from the events that are unfolding to himself. That’s why he says in so many ways, “Peace I leave you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
As we turn to Jesus anew this year, let us remember this core truth. As I was reading in Ezekiel and Isaiah again this year, I note that I am not to worry or be unduly anxious about relationships, resources and direction. I take these insights from Ezekiel 37, where the Lord resurrects an army. Even when the prophet feels weak and alone in what he is doing and called to do, God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21) in terms of resources, in terms of healing, in terms of relationships and certainly in guidance forever.
Similarly, there is comfort and hope found in Isaiah 60, the Lord is our light, and we reflect His light. (verses 1-3) In the end, the Lord gives vision, sight, light forevermore (verses 19-20) emanating from His very self, which is what John the Apostle writes in Revelation (21:22-26). So we trust Him for His direction, His guidance, His power and His way forward.
Let us continue to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.