Sometimes as we begin the New Year, we pray for our circumstances to be better.  If the past year had many struggles, we celebrate the beginning of a New Year praying those difficulties would not return.  This is true especially when those difficulties created emotional stress, mental anguish, and led to physical exhaustion.

Those experiences make us want to forget the past year as quickly as possible as we pray for more favorable circumstances and more powerful experiences of God in the New Year.

What is interesting is that the scriptures want us to remember the past in order to have proper perspective of how God can strengthen our faith for the challenges that may be ahead.  “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.  And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw for the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:36-37 NASU)

This is the same mind-set Joseph had; “Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”  “Tell it to me, please.” (Genesis 40:8) Joseph then answered Pharaoh, say it is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.  So, Pharaoh spoke to Joseph of a dream…”  (Genesis 41:16-17)  Even though David and Joseph faced their biggest challenge, it is their past experiences of how God powerfully moved that gave them confidence to trust God in the future.  Maybe this is why James says: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NASV)

So, as you begin this New Year; let us reflect on what trials God allowed us to experience and examine what we learned in the decision making…

God guided us through.  We should ask ourselves did something we did get us into the trial or did God (like in the case of Job) allow us to experience the trial.  If the trials still continue, examine what it forced you to do in your relationship with God.  This process can empower you as you face the future by providing wisdom, sustain our faith in Christ, and maintain our inner peace no matter what comes your way.

Our focus in this New Year must be to develop the discipline to keep our eyes fixed on Christ because the only fight we have is whether or not, like David and Joseph, we will maintain our faith in Christ no matter what happens around us.  (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 3:14-15) You cannot develop the discipline without faithfully obeying His Word no matter what you may experience.

I love this prayer by David in Psalm 51:10-13: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Thy presence (because of the mistakes he made).  And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

Allow the past to be a growing, intimate experience of God’s grace and goodness for a productive year if God spares our lives.  May God bless each and every one of you this year!

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