I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions. I now find myself going to bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve. I do, however, pause to reflect on what the closing year has brought. The year 2020 presents perhaps a greater challenge to my faith than previous years. On the Isle of Man I’ve had it easy. Some have suffered terribly.
The Bible tells the story of successive generations of the Lord’s people attempting to recognise the hand of God in the events of their lives. We call it Salvation History. The people of God struggle to see God at work in both the ugly and the edifying episodes of their existence. They thank God for the good times and blame him for the bad. Some psalms suggest that God has gone AWOL. ‘Where is he?’ Occasionally they glimpse the mysterious working of the Spirit of God who brings good out of evil; evil they sometimes bring on themselves as well as that inflicted by their enemies.
We, too, struggle to find God within the story of our lives. None of us predicted the severity of the pandemic and how it would change things. Trust in God does not give us a free pass when it comes to suffering. We ‘baby boomers’ who have lived through decades of stability have had it easy. Young people today face greater challenges. Hopefully the pandemic will pass but it has masked the growing threat of climate change. That catastrophe is still to come.
For Christians, the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus is the cosmic historical event that gives meaning to every breath we take and every year that we survive. We’ve just celebrated Christmas, the feast of Emmanuel, God-with-Us. New Year is a good time to remind ourselves of his fidelity to the human race.