Wishing For More Than a Happy New Year

NewYearSmallI hope this new year is better than the past year,” is a statement frequently made as we celebrate the arrival of a new year. I suppose that’s why we wish each other a “Happy New Year!” Is that a legitimate wish, to have a happy new year? I certainly prefer being happy as over against being unhappy. However, in my lifelong study of the Bible and preaching and teaching on its texts I have found there’s not much of a focus on happiness: joy and peace, yes, but not so much on happiness.

When you study the lives of the Biblical characters who lived for God you frequently find them dealing with circumstances that aren’t conducive to producing happiness. It becomes obvious that God often allows His people to go through challenges, setbacks, problems, pain, and suffering in order that a greater good can be accomplished.

Wishing for a happy new year is just that, wishful thinking. If I have any clarity at all on how God operated during Biblical times and in my time as well, it’s that I need to replace wishful thinking with hopeful thinking. There’s not much, if anything, in the Bible about wishing, but a great deal about hoping, and that hope is almost always tied to God.

I believe what this can mean for us as we face a new year is that we can face it with hope! When we believe in God and that He is all good and all loving, and all wise and all powerful as well, then we have reason to hope. The hope is not that all will go well and that we will experience one episode of happiness after another but that God will work in wonderful ways through whatever happens. This, of course, can only happen if we’re willing to cooperate with Him (it’s called making Him Lord of your life).

So, better than wishing for a “Happy New Year” I’m hoping for a year in which I can see God work, come what may. I can be happy with that!

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)

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