Another year has ended and a new one has just begun. It’s interesting to me that the New Year on our Gregorian calendar starts in the beginning of winter. It would seem that it should start in the spring when life begins anew and winter has past. Perhaps starting a new year in the dead of winter when life seems slower and the celebration of Christmas has past is good. It puts me in a more reflective mood. It is this time of year when I can think about the past and the future during the dark days of winter.
Like the harsh winter, many people have gone through long dark times this past year. I know several who have lost loved ones, suffered financial hardship, born months of physical pain, and have walked in despair with no hope for the future.
God’s people experienced the same things through some dark days. But Isaiah, the prophet encouraged them. He reminded them that God was still with them and had not left them. He said, “…for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12
Issac Watts, the great hymn writer, paraphrasing Psalm 90, encourages us as we ponder the past and the future. He wrote these words from the hymn, O God our Help in Ages Past:
“O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.
O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guide while life shall last and our eternal home.” (Verses 1 and 5)
Like winter, life can be full of “stormy blasts”. God is our shelter during those times that may seem to never end. He has been our help in the past and as a new year comes with new challenges, God is our hope. No person or thing can bring us the hope that God brings. He alone is our hope.
Like the branches clinging to the vine in the winter storms, we can hold on to Him and know His love, peace, kindness and goodness. God goes before us in the new year and as Isaiah would say, He “will be your rear guard” – He “has our back”. He is still God in control of our world no matter what has happened this past year or what will happen in this new year.
I’m holding on to God this year to be my “guide while life shall last” and “my eternal home”. I look forward to a new year bearing the fruit He produces in my life. Is He your only hope? As you trust in God, remember He “has your back”.