Ready or not, the year 2020 has begun! Regardless of the successes and failures experienced by us all in 2019, we have entered a brand new year by the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who does not enjoy something that is brand new? Being brand new is a wonderful thought and an even better feeling, and through surrendering this past year to the renewing power of Jesus Christ, we can all feel brand new! However, one of the biggest obstacles to embracing a new beginning is holding on to an old conclusion. The losses you experienced this past year may still be clinging to your mind like Spanish moss on an oak tree!
If anyone had experienced and witnessed great loss, it was the Prophet Jeremiah. In 586 B.C., Jeremiah composed the book of Lamentations, in which he expressed tremendous grief and sorrow concerning the tribulation of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem. Due to their lack of repentance and continued rebellion against God, the Jewish people had been punished and given over to the kingdom of Babylonia. The Babylonians conquered the nation of Israel and laid waste to the city of Jerusalem along with Solomon's Temple. Lamentations is composed of beautifully written poetry that describes the tragic losses suffered by the Jewish people during this time period.
Of course, the words of Lamentations appear to be bleak and hopeless as they describe the harsh realities being faced by God's people, but it is important to remember that every cloud has a silver lining. The poet recalls the failures of the past and says, "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me" (Lam. 3:19-20 NIV). Just like so many of us, the writer of Lamentations has past failures on his mind and they drag his spirit down into the dust. But Jeremiah refuses to stay there and he shifts some serious mental gears beginning with the following verse: "Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope" (Lam. 3:21 NIV). Have you ever heard the Latin phrase, "Carpe Diem?" These two Latin words simply mean "seize the day!" After so much lamenting, Jeremiah rises up from the ashes of defeat with a "Carpe Diem" attitude and takes mental charge of the situation at hand by forcing his mind to remember the character and nature of the God of Israel.
As we begin this new year of life, we too must allow ourselves some reflection on the past, but we must be proactive about how we will move forward in 2020. After Jeremiah reflects on the sadness of previous years, he intentionally reflects beyond the temporal past into the realm of eternity where the God that never changes dwells. Jeremiah then says, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22-23 NIV). Notice that Jeremiah does not rest his ability to rise from the pits of despair upon his own abilities or anyone else's. In the lowest low, we must call to mind that it is God's grace, mercy, and love that has granted us every good thing in this life. Furthermore, it is the presence of Jesus' Spirit within the Christian that gives us the help we need to overcome and be victorious in this life! The Apostle Paul echoes this sentiment by saying, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8 NIV). Do not let last year cloud your view of Jesus Christ and cause you to put less faith and trust in Him. We must remind ourselves of the infinite love and compassion that Jesus has renewed and ready for us every single morning. Like the Apostle Paul said, our continued faith (trust) in the faithful and loving nature of Jesus Christ is how we are saved and leads us into our new beginning for 2020. Trusting in the great faithfulness of Jesus – for He truly is mighty to save – is the key to stepping into the new year with a feeling of being brand new in Christ!
May We All Have a Happy New Year in Jesus' Name! Amen.
Pastor Savanna Rojas