Looking back, looking forward

As we are about to end 2023 and start 2024, we might want to look back at the old year and look forward to the new year.

We look back at 365 days of God’s faithfulness. That is equal to 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes, or 31,536,000 seconds of God loving us, taking care of us, and sustaining us in everything that we needed. Indeed, it was God who provided the food on our tables, the roof over our heads, and the clothing to cover our bodies. It was him who gave us that education, that job, and yes, that family and circle of friends and loved ones whom we treasure. It was God who healed us when we were sick, restored us when we went astray, saved us when we were in danger, and comforted us when we were sad. It was also him who inspired us to dream big, gave us wisdom and strength to succeed, and celebrated with us when at last, we achieved what we aspired for. In all these, let us not forget that everything – including every single heartbeat and every single breath – came from God. St. James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Js 1:17).

Similarly, we look forward to another 366 days (yes, 2024 is a leap year, so it has 29 days in February) of God’s unfailing love. St. Paul tells us, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Because we are living in a fallen world, we know that not everything around us will be perfect in the coming year, and in fact, throughout our lifetime. There will be tests and trials that will come our way. Difficulties will occur and storms will pass our way. Nevertheless, if God reigns in our hearts and we live a life of obedience to his will, we can be assured that the Lord will not leave us nor forsake us. He will guard us against all the forces of evil; we will be standing over our problems, and not our problems reigning over us. Like David, we can sing, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff − they comfort me” (Ps 23:4), and also, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken” (Ps 34:19-20). Elsewhere in the Scriptures, we are likewise reminded, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

This 2024, let us cling to God in faith and prayer. Let us ask for grace to fight evil and live a life that is pleasing to him. Just as God saw us through the year 2023, he will see us through 2024. He will be with us through the ups and downs of our daily grind, leading us from victory to victory. This early, even before the battle begins, we already know what the outcome will be; we will win. Thus, for God’s faithfulness in all the times and seasons of our lives, we can sing, “Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps 136:1).


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