God, Our Hope for Years to Come
By the time you read this it will be a new year. However, as you stand at the dawn of this unique new year, your mind might be plagued with all sorts of anxieties and questions as to what the days ahead might bring. Worry about the future is a common plight afflicting all us mortals. We have this uncanny desire to know what we are not to know, just like our parents in paradise. We are uncomfortable when things are out of our control. Not knowing what to expect or prepare for unnerves us. After all, we assume that if we did know what the future will bring, then we would be in a position to control it to our advantage.
There is just one problem; the future is beyond our finding out. Only God knows what lies ahead in each of our lives and He is not talking! Now, we might feel such ignorance is unfair and really cramps our style, but it is actually in our best interest. Given that it is part and parcel of our fallen nature to prefer to trust in ourselves rather than God, if we really did know what was going to transpire tomorrow, we would quickly lose any sense of dependence on God. Instead, we would make every effort to manipulate events to work for our advantage. I'm afraid, however, that if we did so, we would soon discover to our dismay that we caused the good that was to come our way to veer off course and pass us by and the bad that was headed for us to raise even more havoc in our lives. The early church father Augustine once wrote, "A person does not go wrong when he knows that he does not know something, but only when he thinks he knows something which he does not know" (Letters, To Hesychius 52).
Consider this scenario: a man is told by a fortune teller, or psychic, that in the near future he will be in a serious automobile accident. Assuming that the accident will be due to the faulty condition of the brakes on his old car, he decides to sell the car and purchase a brand new car. The very next day as he is driving to his place of business in his new car, he tries to sneak a few brief looks at his Owner's Manual to figure out how to operate the sophisticated sound system in his new car. Unfortunately, during one of those "quick peaks" his eyes are diverted from the road long enough for him to miss seeing a large dump truck running a stop sign. The truck ends up slamming into the side of his new car killing him instantly. So much for controlling his destiny!
The future does not belong in our inept hands but in God's omnipotent and gracious hands. After all, in His Holy Word God assures us that He "causes all things to work together for good to those who love (Him), to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). He also says to His people reassuringly: "Do not fear, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Is. 43:1a-3a). There is no better place to be than in God's hands this new year!
For generations Christians have sung as part of their New Year's worship the beloved Isaac Watts hymn “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”. The hymn is considered by many to be one of Watts' best compositions. It is based on the first five verses of Psalm 90, which itself was given to us through Moses. According to Thomas Wright in his book, Life of Isaac Watts, Watts composed it around 1714 not long before England's beloved Queen Anne's death. It was a time of great anxiety for the people of England as they speculated about who her successor might be and what the state of the nation might be under the new leadership. In the face of such uncertainty and anxiety about the future, the hymn's first verse beautifully proclaims where all hope lies:
Our God, our Help in ages past, Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal Home! (TLH 123)
You and I can face all the uncertainties of the future because the same God who was our help in ages past is our present help, as well as our hope for years to come. We have a great history with God. Not only is He our Creator and the Creator of all that exists, including time, but He is the One who purposely and joyfully entered time and creation that He might Himself be "born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4-5).
Our God is not some aloof deity who cares little about what transpires in our lives. He is our Emmanuel, "God with us." The cross of Jesus is the very proof that God cares what happens to us now, as well as in the future. He has not only sheltered us from the stormy blast of God's wrath against our sin, but He insures according to His grace that even worldly heartache's and troubles will serve to preserve us to the fulfillment of our hope of everlasting life (Rom. 5:3-5; I Peter 1:3-8). In fact, He is our Eternal Home. Jesus says: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). Should even death be in our future this year, we have no cause to worry!
All that being said, I have only one more thing to add: Have an anxiety free and blessed New Year of 2022 in the God Who is our Help in ages past and our Hope for years to come.”
To our family in Christ at Trinity,
As we continue to rejoice and celebrate the greatest gift of all in our Savior Jesus Christ, we also rejoice and give thanks for the Lord’s everyday graces which He has bestowed upon us this past year in all of you. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for the gifts, cards, and wonderful Christmas greetings you sent our way. You have been most gracious. We praise God for you! The abiding peace and eternal joy of our Savior be with you all throughout this New Year!
Pastor and Jo Schreibeis