It’s hard to believe, but it’s nearly time to say goodbye to this year. In just a few days, 2021 will be history and 2022 will stretch before us, a blank canvas waiting to be filled with the colors and brushstrokes of our lives in the year ahead. For many, 2021 leaves taking with it unachieved goals and aspirations or unrealized dreams penned with fresh ink and hopeful anticipation just one short year ago. And, if we’re honest, a thoughtful rehearsing of the past year may leave us feeling regretful or sad or wistful about what might have been.
The author of Psalm 102 was no stranger to dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams. Using vivid imagery, he paints a picture that describes not only physical pain and affliction but emotional pain and feelings of rejection from both God and man.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.
Psalm 102:3-11 (NLT)
Yet in verse 12, the Psalmist makes a palpable shift from affliction to affirmation. He doesn’t sugarcoat his suffering and heartache, but his focus moves to highlight God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. His hope is not in a turn of the calendar or a new set of goals written in an unblemished planner or a new routine that promises to transform his life. His hope is in the eternal God whose character will not change and whose faithfulness will never waver.
Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
But you are always the same;
you will live forever.
The children of your people
will live in security.
Their children’s children
will thrive in your presence.
Psalm 102:25-28 (NLT)
I don’t know what the past year held for you, nor do I know what any of us may face in the year ahead. But I do know that no matter what may happen or how we may feel, Hope has always been and Hope is coming—not in the form of a new year but in the daily new mercies of a loving and faithful God. And, because of that Hope, even in the midst of the hardship and heartache of this earthly life, we can proclaim now just as we will one day proclaim around the throne:
Praise the Lord!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
Revelation 19:1, 6-7 (NLT)
“If this New Year shall be full of unbelief,
it will be sure to be dark and dreary.
If it be baptized into faith, it will be saturated with benediction.
If we will believe our God as he deserves to be believed,
our way will run along the still waters,
and our rest will be in green pastures.
Trusting in the Lord, we shall be prepared for trials,
and shall even welcome them
as black ships laden with bright treasures.”
Praying God’s richest blessings for you and yours, today and in the year ahead.