This week I heard a BBC news commentator say that a certain film (which has yet to be released in the UK) had been nominated for a BAFTA award because it was a good news story and we all needed more good news since 2016 was such a bad year. On the surface it was just another news sound bite, but what disturbed my soul was an opinion stated as a definite fact – 2016 was an awful year. Was it? I’ve seen this opinion repeatedly given on social media, in newspapers and even professed from our political leaders who were glad to see the back of 2016.
The thing is, and I confess this cautiously as I seem to be so outnumbered by popular opinion, I really don’t think 2016 was worse than any other year. (Possible collective gasp of disbelief from my readership!) Yes, humankind managed to make a mess of many things. We continued to behave with cruel aggression towards each other, we continued to prioritize the wrong things often at the expense of the most vulnerable and needy in our societies and we continued to believe that we ourselves, humankind, can be the solution to all our manifest problems. In other words, we behaved much as we have always done, although perhaps some of this may have seemed closer to home for those of us in the western world. But none of it was new under the sun. If there was any problem at all with 2016, it was the same problem as through all the ages – we are choosing to live without God and outwith His sovereign rule. I could find myself getting quite depressed if I listened without thought to the negative voices of gloom and despair around us. At times, I find myself wondering how those who have no faith cope with all the negativity. Where do they find their hope?
As fireworks exploded and the world embarked on 2017, I was asked what my New Year resolution would be. In response I confessed I haven’t much bothered with such nonsense since I was taught Rabbie Burns in school. It was always a source of confusion to me that you could resolve to give up chocolate on January 1st but be reminded on January 25th that you wouldn’t achieve it. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” ‘How depressing is that!’ I would think. ‘Why bother?’
Leaving resolutions aside, there is truth in Burn’s words from Tae a Moose. We plot and plan to secure our future, we store up our barns and feel fatly content that all will be okay with our world, and then like the plough share destroying the mouse’s nest – all that we placed our hope upon is gone. At least in part I suspect that is why 2016 seemed so negative to so many people; their hopes and ambitions had gang aft agley.
For me I believe God was as active in 2016 as He has been all throughout time; and so, any resolution I have for 2017 is simply this: I place my hope and trust in God alone for the year to come.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT)
Director of National Ministries