Updated: Jan 9
For many, a new year is a time for hope.
Some people believe they will be able to lose the weight, organize their houses, finish that book or carry out whatever change they believe is needed in their lives. Maybe they hope to find true love, move into their dream home, or finally get that promotion.
None of those things are bad, but there is a higher place to put our ultimate hope of what we are believing for in 2023.
As I learned in Visionwriters International, what is hope for, if not for God?
Psalm 42:11 (KJV) says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
And in The Passion Translation: “So I say to my soul, ‘Don't be discouraged. Don't be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me. Then I'll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, He is my saving grace!’”
We ought to place our hope in God — for Him to move in our lives and our families and our cities, to speak to us what we need to hear, to redeem anything that was lost, to answer prayers, and to work miracles.
Even in situations where we play a role as cooperators and co-builders with God, we ought to trust not only in our own efforts but to believe that He will help us, lead us, and strengthen us to carry out those resolutions.
“He does the heavy lifting,” as my friend Noel Condon told me years ago, and it just came to mind again as I wrote this. God doesn’t intend for us to face our resolutions, possibilities, and “to do” lists on our own!
Psalm 27:13 confesses, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD…” (KJV). The Passion Translation declares, “Yet I believe with all my heart that I will see again your goodness, Yahweh…!”
Can we trust and believe that we will see God’s goodness in this New Year?
We see in Hebrews that hope can anchor our souls. “…it was impossible for God to lie, we … have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (6:18-19, KJV).
And in The Passion Translation: “… it is impossible for God to lie for we know that His promise and His vow will never change! And now we have run into His heart to hide ourselves in His faithfulness. This is where we find strength and comfort, for He empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time — an unshakable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God Himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat in the heavenly realm…”
This hope is firm and unshakable because it does not depend on us, but on God, who never lies, never fails and always keeps His promises. Hope in God does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
Visionwriters International founder Jaque Shank wrote out hope as an acronym — H.O.P.E. — standing for “Habit of Permanent Expectation.” This is an expectation that belongs on God alone.
It’s so important to trust in the Lord rather than people or our own knowledge. Jeremiah 17:5-6 says that the person who trusts only in other humans rather than in God will not receive prosperity when it comes — it will pass them by.
I have experienced this before when I didn’t take opportunities or risks due to fear of people disapproving of me or rejecting me if I failed or was misunderstood. Then afterward, I saw the blessing I would have gained had I stepped out in faith.
I also have disobeyed before because of my own human thinking, assuming it would be too difficult or painful and even trying to make up my own bargains, like “How about I just do what I want in this one area of my life,” but no, He is worthy of it all.
That’s why we must “cast down vain imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Whenever we obey God to do something that feels like it’s killing us, it’s only killing the flesh — not our true self.
It’s carving that away to help us become who we were created to be all along.
The person who trusts in God, meditates on His Word and does what it says, will be like a well-watered tree, bearing fruit naturally due to their submitted, loving relationship with Jesus (Jeremiah 17:7-8, Psalm 1, John 15:5).
When I have lived this way, even though it has sometimes included awkward moments on the human level where people don’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing (and I sometimes can’t quite explain it either; it’s called living by faith!), I have received peace in the midst of uncertainty — and rewards in God’s perfect timing.
“He who comes to God must believe that He … rewards those who seek (and obey) Him” (Hebrews 11:6, parenthetical addition mine).
And what I thought would be so miserable usually isn’t miserable at all but actually includes unexpected surprises of joy. It turns out, God wasn’t just trying to take from me or oppress me — He wanted to give me joy and freedom, which are found in God. In fact, He *is* joy, and He *is* freedom. And the key to unlock them is faith, worked out in obedience.
So, kick off the new year with hope — not only in potential progress, results and dreams fulfilled, but, most importantly —
with hope in God.
Photo credit: TimeForTheHolidays.net
Credit for first/top image: DreamsTime