2016 has passed, and what a rollercoaster of a year it was!
There were many ups, and many downs. There were many victories, and many defeats. There were moments of great joy, and moments of great sorrow.
Throughout the past year, you and I have been through quite a bit. We have each learned, lived, and loved. We have each taken steps forward in certain ways, and fallen backward in others. As I sit and reflect with those that I love upon 2016, one theme continues to present itself in conversation: the desire to "start fresh."
What have you personally experienced in the year of 2016?
Perhaps there was a new birth in the family, or maybe there was a death of a loved one. Perhaps you finally got that pay raise you'd been hoping for, or maybe you lost your job. Perhaps you were blessed with a new friendship, or maybe you had to sadly end one.
Even nationally and internationally, the world has been through a lot in 2016. Both the BAD: the refugee crisis, innumberable terrorist attacks, ongoing civil wars, mass shootings, police shootings, election cycles, natural disasters, etc. And the GOOD: conflicts ending, refugees being welcomed, attacks being thwarted, justice being served, mercy being shown, political reforms/improvements, generous outpourings to those who are in need, etc.
Regardless of the joy or the pain that we have each been through this year, God is offering us a new beginning in the year of 2017. Jesus' gracious love, His sacrifice on the cross, and His Spirit's presence in our lives fully enable us to "start fresh."
Starting fresh is a very biblical idea, as a matter of fact! The Bible is chock-full of new beginnings. Here are just a few select examples:
What do you desire for 2017? How do you want to start fresh? We've each made our New Year's resolutions, but what about deep down in your soul?
Because of the love of Christ, God is here in our midst. He was here in 2016, and He is here in 2017. He cares about your deep-soul desires: for forgiveness, for belonging, for redemption, for salvation, for hope. Through Jesus, we have been given access to these things, and access into God's upside-down Kingdom of radical love for others.
It says in Lamentations 3:22-24,
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.'"
Side note: Lamentations is not a book of lovey-dovey praise, but rather one of great sorrow and terrible heart break, a collective "crying out" to God. And it's in the middle of this pain that this beautiful promise is found: Our God is a loving heavenly Father who gives us new beginnings as soon as and as sure as the sun rises. Every. Single. Morning.
I pray that as you enter 2017, you may feel tremendously blessed by this promise. I pray that no matter your experiences in 2016, be them joyful or be them painful, you will seek and find another new beginning in Jesus Christ today. I pray that together, we may work hard to serve and love those who are in need, and that we may cherish the time we have with those we are close to.
God bless you, and happy new year. Let's start fresh.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES