Reflections on the New Year

As we mark the passing of the old year and welcoming of the new each January, many of us make resolutions, set goals, and embark on a journey of self-improvement. We think of the things that we would like to start doing, do better, or cease doing all together. We feel that something about us is not enough. We focus on the things we want to change about ourselves and our lives. Most of the time our New Year’s resolutions are self-inflicted change. But so often change comes unexpectedly. It is essential that at these times we stop to reflect on the unchanging nature of God and the newness of life we find in Christ.

The Unchanging God

Change is inevitable and often uncomfortable. Even when there is a sense of excitement about what is to come, we may experience “little griefs” for what was as we attempt to adapt to the new. Change can cause disequilibrium in our lives and make us feel off-kilter and out of sorts. We grasp for the familiar as we wrestle with the unknown. During these times, we can look to God as our rock and our foundation. We worship a Savior who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Though we change throughout our lives, God does not change. Nor do his purposes for our lives. As told by the prophet Malachi, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

As Pastor Caleb spoke a few weeks ago, the Old Testament frequently refers to God’s hesed. This word does not have a sufficient equivalent in English but can come to refer not only to God’s mercy but also his faithfulness, steadfastness and loyalty. God’s unchanging nature means that his love for us cannot be affected by anything we think, do or say. His hesed is unfailing and unconditional. It is the word used to refer to God’s covenant love for his people. Through this everlasting covenant, he has secured our salvation. He will never forget his promises to keep, protect and love us forever. There is no New Year’s resolution we can make that will make God love us more. And when we face unexpected change, we can turn our gaze to our unchanging Father as a source of strength and comfort.

Newness of Life in Christ

Though our God and his purposes for our lives do not change, we do. It is through these changes that we go through the process of sanctification as he works to conform us more into the likeness of Christ. Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” In Christ, we are promised not only forgiveness and redemption but also the promise of a new life. Paul describes this newness of life in Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” We can rejoice in these promises that God is changing us through an ongoing process of spiritual renewal. As we reflect on the past year and look forward to the new, let us never forget that our ultimate identity is found in Christ and our purposes are rooted in his unchanging love.

Embracing Change through Faith

With the turning of a calendar page, we can recommit to aligning ourselves more closely with God’s will and allowing his transformative power to work within us. We can face seasons of change with confidence that we are covered by an unchanging and everlasting covenant. Let us not rely on our self-determined resolutions to transform us, but look to the Holy Spirit to work within us and lead us into the fullness of the new life he has prepared for us in Christ.

A Prayer for the New Year

Father, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, we thank you for your unchanging love and faithfulness. Help us to surrender our will to yours, knowing that anything that isn’t in accord with your will is not worth doing. Fill us with a desire for communion with you through your word and through prayer. Use us in this changing world to proclaim the good news of an unchanging Lord who has promised to love and rescue his children. For those of us facing uncertainty, let us trust in your hesed faithfulness and help us to know that you are working all things together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). May we trust in your promises and rest knowing that your unchanging love for us will never fail. We ask these things in the mighty name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.