This month we break through into a new year. The old calendars are taken down; 2022’s story is complete, and we look now ahead. It is as if each month of 2023 has washed its face and taken up new garments; they stand now before us to greet us. The question is what will they greet us with? Does April hold in her hands the fulfillment of dreams? Does July hide sorrow behind her back? We, each of us, are setting forth on a new journey, a new year where new months will be marked by new victories, new pains, new hopes and new trials.
A New Year of Unknowns
I’ll confess, the thought of what lies ahead — or at least what could lie ahead — sometimes makes me afraid. After all, they say only the young and the foolish face the future without fear. Some of you know how quickly life can change. You also know how one phone call or one test result can make even a bright June day feel like a dark winter’s night. Maybe there are already days on your new calendar that you are reluctant to face… a day that marks the anniversary of a loss or on which a test or a scan is scheduled. Whether your dark days are already known and penned into 2023 or whether there is simply a general fear learned from previous unexpected sorrow, there is a temptation to shudder while the calendar flips.
For many of you there may be a paralyzing horror at the thought of what 2023 will hold. Will you have enough strength to carry the weight that may be placed on your shoulders? Will you have enough faith to withstand the 3:00 AM doubts? How will you bear the unbearables and face the unfaceables?
A New Year of Truth
These thoughts can easily rob the new year of its beauty and freshness. They can take over our souls and choke out hope. For this reason I believe it is essential at the opening of this new year to be reminded of truth, to listen to the voice of one who has gone before us. The passage is one that many are overly familiar with. It is one that gets engraved on plaques and strewn across coffee mugs but rarely, I’m afraid, gets imprinted into our hearts. They are words of a man who knew about fear, uprooted dreams and scattered plans. They are words of a man who lived and breathed in a world of uncertainty just like yours. The words are King David’s. In the face of darkness he declared:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Words of Courage
The words, of course, are from one of the most famous Psalms, Psalm 23. The words themselves are beautiful. The picture they create is soothing. But I want you today to take in what David is truly trying to convey. David wasn’t attempting to write a lullaby. He wasn’t trying to string together pretty, fluffy words into a timeless poem. Instead, David was making a boast. He was planting his feet down on top of his endlessly shaking world and saying, “All is well, and all will be well.” In addition, he was crying out, as if to a new year, “I know you have troubles hiding behind your back. I see the valley of the shadow. I see the enemies; and yet, I am not averting my gaze.” Read the words again and let the fierce courage strike you.
David stands — as many of us stand — with a history of trouble behind him and the threat of danger before him; yet he utters with perfect clarity, “I will fear no evil.” David’s words are bold words. They are breathtakingly fearless. Why?
David is no fool. He is not ignorant or blind to the trouble that surrounds him. He fearlessly boasts for only one reason: “…for You [God] are with me.” Like a child whose hand is held tightly by a parent, David does not shrink from the future. He knows the might of his Father. He knows the wisdom with which his Father will orchestrate his days. And He leans his troubles up against the wall of God’s love and knows there is no threat of it being broken.
Confidence in the What Lies Ahead
David is aware that even in the midst of a nightmare — in the presence of his enemies — his Father will set up a table on which to feed and sustain him. He knows that even when the pain comes and the darkness surrounds him, he will feel the oil of God’s grace falling down on his face. Furthermore, he is confident that in moments of uncertainty there will be a rod and a staff hemming him in, leading him through precarious passageways. David knows his Father. He knows, so his gaze at the future is unclouded by fear.
My friends, if Christ is your Lord and Savior, you have the same Father. You have the same God who is going before you into the future setting up banqueting feasts in the midst of dark places. He is the same faithful Father who holds above your head an endlessly flowing vial of grace. You have His hand to hold, His love to lean on, His mercy to carry you “all the days of your life.” Do not fear the calendar on the wall. Do not close your eyes to the days before you. It will be in those days that you may know your Father like never before. September may hold sorrow; but your Father is already in September, preparing a place by the still waters where you can rest, forming a rope of His goodness by which to lead you. Do not fear.
Stand with David and take the hand of your Father and boast. Boast not of your courage, and not of your ability to endure. But boast of your God, of His might, and of His enduring faithfulness. Boast of His wisdom and love and of His mercy. Say with David, “The Lord is my shepherd… I’m not going to be in want in 2023. I am not going to be crushed by sorrow this year. I am not going to be swallowed by doubt and I am not going to be overthrown by my weakness. For God with His might, His love and His grace will be with me.”
Look ahead in hope. Hold His hand and hope and say at the dawn of 2023, “All is well. All will be well.”
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8
If you are seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. We invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.