Now is a good time to hit the pause button. You have been running since Thanksgiving preparing for Christmas and now it is time to stop, take a breath and consider the New Year. However, this thought may cause even more anxiety as you consider everything that is coming! But for a moment put those thoughts away and STOP.
I don’t know about you, but for me stopping is often easier said than done. Like you, my days are full of endless tasks. From rising early to workout, grabbing some breakfast, heading to work, and then getting home only to repeat it all the next day can be tiresome. We need to hit the pause button. Not to question what we’re doing, but to reset, to remember why we get up in the morning.
Hitting the pause button allows us to gain perspective. The days between Christmas and New Year can give us a respite that allows us time to reflect back and see how the Lord has been working. By doing this we will find courage and hope to face the New Year. Joshua offers us a good biblical perspective in how to move forward.
The book of Joshua opens as Israel is preparing to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the desert for 40 years. The Lord tells Joshua that He will open the way for the people to cross on dry ground as the priests carry the ark of the covenant into the Jordan River. The Lord does this to give the people hope and confidence for the future, “Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the [nations] ahead of you. Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River!” (Joshua 3:10-11)
As soon as the priest’s foot touches the water, the river stops just as the Lord had said and the people cross on dry ground. In parting the river, the Lord reveals His power and faithfulness that brings them hope for their future. The Lord then tells Joshua, “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’” (Joshua 4:2-3)
They did this to remind future generations of what the Lord had done, “Use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7) Remembering the Lord’s faithfulness gives us hope.
The New Year may bring us trials that cause us to cry out, “God Where Are YOU!” It is in times like these that we need to remember how the Lord’s faithfulness in the past brings us hope for the future. The simplistic words of “Don’t worry, be happy” will not help us when we are in the midst of pain. However, knowing that the Lord is mindful of us, of our pain and distress, will give us the courage and hope we need to face whatever comes in the New Year.
Most welcome the New Year by making resolutions to do things different. But when the source of our hope for change is in our own determination, we often fail. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February. Is there any hope for change?
There is, but it will be found in the Lord and not ourselves. When we are mindful of the Lord and his faithfulness we can face whatever trials come in the New Year. How? By remembering that our hope is based in what God has already done not in what we might do. It comes by remembering the promise of transformation that God gives to all who place their trust in Christ.
Joshua’s memorial reminded future generations of the Lord’s faithfulness in the past to give them a hope for the future. Like them, we need to remember that our hope is found when we stop trying and start trusting. Remembering this will give us a sure hope that will set us free.