When It’s Not a Happy New Year

You awoke to the sound of fire works, ready to slap the neighbor kids until you glanced at the clock. It was 12:02 on January 1. Happy New Year, everyone.

You’d gone to bed at 9:00 unable to stand being awake any more. Being awake hurt too much. But you couldn’t sleep. You tossed and turned and dozed fitfully. You envisioned the masses celebrating with their champagne and poppers and hoers d’oeuvres. They smiled and laughed and looked back on the year prior with appreciation or even a wink-wink-nudge-nudge “glad that’s over.” They watched enjoyed their festivities in the glow of Dick Clark’s special from the TV on in the back ground. They looked amazing and were happy and hopeful.

For you the last year was a slide and it’s only gaining speed. The calendar turn is no magical upturn in fortunes or hope. It’s just a number reminding you that you survived another day and that you face another now. Actually it reminds you that you face 365 called 2016 and you have little reason to believe it will be better than last.

You lost a child. You can’t make ends meet. You lost your job. Your small business is tanking. That spiteful group at your church is running you off. Your spouse left you. Your child hates you. The doctor said “cancer”. You’re still single. Your marriage is irreparably broken. You ‘re exhausted, a dry husk, without emotional or spiritual or mental reserves for what comes next. You face fog and darkness not the aspirations and promise of a beautiful sunrise.

All is not lost, though. There is reason to carry on. It lies outside you, outside your vision and understanding. But it lies within your reach.

Look at Psalm 6.

Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger;
do not discipline me in Your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking;
3 my whole being is shaken with terror.
And You, Lord—how long?
4 Turn, Lord! Rescue me;
save me because of Your faithful love.
5 For there is no remembrance of You in death;
who can thank You in Sheol?
6 I am weary from my groaning;
with my tears I dampen my pillow
and drench my bed every night.
7 My eyes are swollen from grief;
they grow old because of all my enemies.
8 Depart from me, all evildoers,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord as heard my plea for help;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be ashamed and shake with terror;
they will turn back and suddenly be disgraced.

The Lord hears your plea. He accepts your prayer. Whether your trouble comes from outside or in, whether it’s pain or injustice or loneliness or fear – He hears. He knows that your body is breaking down with anxiety and that you cry whenever nobody is looking. He knows your weariness. He feels the wetness of your tears. And his love is faithful.

You have hope.

Lamentations 3:19-25

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

We have new mercies today, January 1 of the year you dread. Not the mercies of 2015 that seemed to run out – new mercies for today. The Lord is our portion – the very amount we need, no more and no less. You didn’t find it gift wrapped this bleary morning, but wait on the Lord and the mercies will happen precisely where and when you need them to. Do not wait passively, wait with conviction and faith that God will keep His word. He will bring hope and mercies. He will be the portion you need for this day and the next and the next, each set of mercies right for the day provided not a moment too early or too late.

It may not be a happy new year. But it can be a hopeful one.

I live in the Nashville area and spend my days helping churches with leadership development. My nights are spent writing and rooting for Minnesota sports teams. I also podcast a bit. I'm the author of The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is Not the Enemy of Faith, and The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life