We’re closing out another difficult year. So many people have experienced so much loss. Maybe like me you are entering 2022 with some feelings of trepidation. What trials will the new year hold? Who will be lost in the coming year? How much more sadness and loss can I endure? Was this my last Christmas with So and So? Will this dreadful pandemic ever end? I have to imagine I’m not alone in these fears and question marks. The good little Christian in me knows in my head that that’s not how I’m supposed to live. But the losses lately have been so staggering – it’s not normal to lose count of the number of people you know personally who have died this year, let alone those your friends have lost in addition. It’s hard to see a bright new year in the midst of so much turmoil.
As I sat in church for the final Sunday of 2021, anxious fears looming in my vision, I listened to extremely familiar words in a brand new way. I memorized these words along with my first grade class 30 years ago! I’ve heard them dozens of times every Christmas season every single one of my 38 years. But they came alive in this moment.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.’” (Luke 2:10)
While the pastor was emphasizing the reality that this good news is for all people, I heard three distinctive phrases that should mark out my perspective for 2022:
I love that this verse begins with a “but.” It indicates that the statements coming are contrary to what has come before. Given the circumstances the shepherds were experiencing in Luke 2, there was definitely cause for concern, trepidation, anxious feelings. They were out on an ordinary evening, in the dark wilderness, watching their sheep when BAM. Bright sky full of singing angels. I can only imagine shouts of “What is going on?!” We don’t often stop to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine what that must have been like.
But. The crucial turning point. Our circumstances may be unnerving, even terrifying. But God says, “Fear not.” These words resonate in my fearful heart. Fear should not dominate my view of 2022. Why not?
The good news of Christmas is a great launching pad for the coming year. Simply put, we don’t have to live in fear of the next crisis because of Jesus. Yes, the next crisis will come. But the good news of Jesus changes everything. His birth, life, and death and resurrection, offer HOPE for those who believe that far outweighs the next crisis. Life is hard. Our world is broken. But there is good news. We can lift our eyes above and beyond the troubling circumstances of our world and walk forward into this new year with our gaze fully fixed on that good news and the One who brings it. This brings us to ….
When we trust God fully, we can walk forward in joyful assurance, knowing that we are LOVED beyond our understanding. Knowing that He has our back; we walk in His power. Knowing that He is both GOOD and SOVEREIGN. There’s nothing outside his control. And there’s nothing he’ll allow that isn’t the very best for us. Even our trials. And we know that heaven and eternity awaits. We can’t lose sight of the big picture.
This is the launching point I want to be leaping from into the new year.
As a loving mother, I can’t imagine how hurt I would feel if my children expressed concerns or fear to me about how I was going to care for them this coming year. I’m a flawed human being, but I would do everything within my power to ensure that they are safe, nurtured, growing, loved and cared for in every way. How much more does our Heavenly Father have good plans to care for us in this coming year? He’s way more perfect than I could ever be as a parent.
He lifts our chin and captures our gaze like we sometimes do with our children. His message is the same all these years later. Look up and hear: Fear not. Good news. Great joy.