“So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Romans 8:31 (Common English Bible)
It is always possible to dwell on the bright as well as the dark side of life. Yet, for many people, they are inclined to direct their attention to what may go wrong, to anticipate the bitter rather than the sweet, the tears rather than the smiles, and the difficulties rather than the opportunities that may lie in the New Year that stretches out before them. This way of looking at things is probably nothing more than a carryover from how their parents approached life from year to year. Perhaps this is a view fashioned by disappointments and struggles over many years. But it remains a choice that anyone can make – quieting the voice of negativity and grasping the promise of faith that God is for us as we cross from one year to the next.
This is not to be blindly idealistic. People of faith know as much about real trouble as any non-believer, perhaps much more, in fact. Those who don’t have faith often need a distraction to push through each day, some measure of artificial stimulation. Having no faith or hope they look to escape from the real challenges that confront every one of us. Alcohol, recreational drugs, or acquiring things of luxury and comfort divert attention from life’s challenges and disappointments. Conversely, people of faith are genuine realists. They acknowledge and face real misfortune and then look right through the trouble to something beyond – they see hope in the promises of their faith. That is the real difference.
It should be clear that the Bible never asks that we turn away from the facts, that we deceive ourselves in order to be a people of faith. As Christians we are aware of our own capacity for greed, and cruelty, and selfishness. We know that those who would trample over us care little about our faith and that disillusionment lurks around every moment of every day. Such has always been the case and always will be. Emerson said: “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” But, in faith, we can look into the dense fog of the New Year without too much uneasiness because God moves forward alongside us, a God that is always struggling with us, always bringing good out of evil.
Life can be a struggle. Not every cloud will have a silver lining and not every wrong will be righted in this life. Ambitions may continue to remain unfulfilled and broken relationships may never be repaired. But that does not diminish the promise of faith that God is for us. Whoever believed that every round of disappointment, and meanness, and heartbreak is the whole story? Life also consists of laughter, moments of happiness, and serendipitous occasions of surprise and delight. Each struggle to be experienced above the loud clamor of negativity. Our own free agency allows us to choose the tone that we attach our lives to. Perhaps all we need in the New Year is to be reminded that if God is for us, who is against us?