Dear friends, Happy New Year!
We’ve had some tough years in ministry. However, 2020 was for Allison and me, the best and most fruitful year of ministry we’ve ever had together. Yet some of our dear friends have experienced the worst year of ministry. One pastor recently said, it’s like locusts have eaten everything; there’s nothing left, and they are still eating!
If you are walking into 2021 with increasing concern and uncertainty, we hope to encourage you. Growing up in Indonesia as a missionary kid, there was a time when we had no roads and cars, and we would walk everywhere, sometimes I’d walk for days and days behind my parents to the villages. We would often walk through valleys and dark forests, but I always knew that sooner or later we would start climbing again and not too far ahead would be the next mountain. The forest canopy would open up, I would see the sky, the sticky humidity would be blown away by the mountain air and the cool breeze would wash over my face and I could see for miles. But then I knew the mountain top experience wouldn’t last long and we would be descending again into the next valley. I think the geography of land teaches us a lot about life and ministry. Who wouldn’t like to stay on the mountain top right? But we don’t get far staying on the mountain. If you are making progress, the mountain tops don’t last and neither do the valleys.
God is always doing a new thing
I agree that we should lament, it’s an important part of processing grief and disappointment. But in the book of Lament itself, Lamentations 3:23, God reminds us that he wants to keep us moving forward with him. He says, “My Mercies are new every morning, great is my faithfulness.”
God is always doing something new. In Isaiah 43:19 God says, I am doing a new thing, “can you see it?” Don’t be so focused on what didn’t happen for you in 2020 that you miss “seeing” what God wants to make happen for you in 2021. Let’s not merely keep “hoping” for a better day, let’s keep walking forward and taking hold of the “promises” of that better day. Don’t hold on to an old revelation, ask the Lord for a new one, don’t keep holding on to an old verse, ask the Lord for a new one, don’t keep singing old songs, ask the Lord to put a new song in your mouth!
In 2 Corinthians 4:17 Paul says our troubles here are “momentary.” They aren’t going to last, and in comparison to the bliss and the beauty of Christ’s eternal kingdom that we will soon enjoy together with Jesus, our troubles here will be nothing. In Psalm 73, David says we will look back on evil and the brokenness of this world as if waking from a dream. The Lord started making all things new the day he rose from the grave. I know he seems to be taking his time and we keep groaning “How long Oh Lord how long!” But If we believe that ONE day very soon the Lord will make all things new, as John reminds us in 1 John 3:3, “this hope purifies us.” So, let’s bring that future hope into every day now! Revelation 21:4 reminds us of that ONE day when he will wipe away every tear. So, let us live as foretastes of that one day, one day at a time.