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5 Constants for the New Year

By Phil Thompson

Photo by Oskars Sylwan on Unsplash

There’s much I don’t know about the new year. But as I turn to the Word, there’s much I can know. The Bible—and Psalm 90 in particular—gives a set of constants on the horizon as the calendar flips from December to January.

1. God will still be my refuge.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Ps. 90:1–2)

The great constant in my life year after year is the unending fact of the presence of God. He has been there, and he will be there. No matter where I find myself this year, God will be there. No matter how strong the storms hit this year, God will always be there for me. I love how Moses prays this ancient psalm not just to the abstract God who is out there somewhere but to the God who is our dwelling place—the God at the center of my life, to whom I can run when my life is threatened.

2. This year—and all my life—will slip through my fingers.

You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. (Ps. 90:3–6)

The next great constant in life is bad news. The reason I need a safe place to dwell is because this life isn’t safe. Before we know it, November will be here, and we’ll be back in the holiday rush all over again. This year will bring a host of missed opportunities, unproductive weeks, and frustrated plans. This year people will die, far away and close to home. Just as the eternality of God is constant, so also is the mortality of humanity and the temporality of our efforts.

3. Sorrow and suffering will wreak havoc because of sin.

For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? (Ps. 90:7–11)

Another “bad news constant” is that this year won’t just move me one year closer to the end but it’ll also contain a measure of evil—pain and persecution, sickness and sorrow. I’ll sense the dust of Adam’s death on my body. It’ll be another year when I’ll feel the sting of the curse in my life, home, and workplace. I’ll send up the “sigh” of disappointment as creation offers its groans (Rom. 8:22–23). This year, I’ll see my own sin ever more clearly and see the wrath it deserves as all the greater.

4. God’s covenant mercies will satisfy me.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. (Ps. 90:12–15)

The next constant is a ray of hope in the darkness of life. Into the dissatisfaction of this life, God will bring satisfaction. Into sorrow, rejoicing. Into the depths of pain, gladness. And in spite of lost years, eons of restoration.

Seen rightly, flipping the calendar isn’t a mere exercise in futility but an opportunity to take stock of our lives in light of the great constants in this life and the life to come. The new year ought to drive me deeper into the arms of God—enjoying his embrace and longing for his return. Another year, a more all-encompassing longing for his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

5. God will always smile on my efforts.

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (Ps. 90:16–17)

This final constant moves beyond encouraging my discouraged heart to strengthening my feeble hands. Those of us who know the favor of the Lord—the happiness of God with us because of the righteousness of Jesus—approach the tasks of the new year in our homes and businesses and churches with renewed energy as the power of God reaches into our lives.

We work under the sun of God’s grace, so this year’s toils and troubles, sufferings and setbacks aren’t cause for dismay. Instead, because Jesus has forever ensured God’s smile on my life, I can be certain God will advance his constant work through my inconstant fingers in this new year.

Article excerpt is taken from The Gospel Coalition (U.S. Edition). Read the full article resource here:

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