Lamentations 3:22-24 - The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him."
This month we enter a new year. As we look ahead to see what the future may bring, the prospects appear like they always do: perplexed and uncertain. Inflation continues to impact our wallets and bank accounts. Questions about energy use and the environment leave us scratching our heads. Things on international fronts cause concern, and the persistence of crime plagues our cities and small towns alike.
As we look at all these issues, we could feel very hopeless. But God would not have us to feel that way. We need to remember that in spite of our circumstances we have a hope that is great and everlasting. This is because God has sent His Son to live among us. Jesus dwelt in our world with all its heartache and problems, including the one that haunts us all: death.
But the good news is Jesus has overcome the world. His victory over sin, death, and the devil was won for us on the cross. His resurrection from the dead unto eternity is the same resurrection we can know through faith in Him (see Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). This is the strength we have to face each day, knowing that Jesus has gone before us. Therefore, "Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1b-2).
Many were the problems Jesus faced as He trod the heavy road to Calvary. He endured resentment and bitter opposition from the scribes, Pharisees, and religious elders who should have known better. He suffered the daily scorn of those who mocked Him openly and under their breath. And then there was the ultimate humiliation at the hands of lawless men who would do anything to remove Him from the picture by murdering Him.
Ironically, in all this, Jesus didn't brush off those who acted with foolishness and hatred. Rather, He understood their predicament clearly and saw them—saw us—for who we are: "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36b). And He loved us in spite of it all.
Therefore, because Jesus lived among us we have hope for the future. He understands our troubles, worries, weaknesses, and infirmities, and He has overcome them all. Furthermore, He has promised us His caring and sustaining presence in the middle of all the difficulties we may face in this new year (see Matthew 28:20b).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in Jesus we have all we could ever hope for. Thank You. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, January 1980 issue, "Christ Among Us" by Ron Schlegel
1. What's your greatest personal concern for the new year 2021?
2. How can we "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely" and follow Jesus?
3. Why does the world have such a hard time seeing itself as" harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd"? Why is this hard for people to admit?
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