As we push on into the new year, we generally do two types of thinking: What happened in the last year, and what we want to happen in the next year. As Christians, however, it seems like we should have a third option: Looking back on the next year.
When we think about our past, and talk about the good and bad things that have happened, Christians are often able to recognize God’s hand in things. We don’t have the answers to all of the tragedies in our lives, nor can we explain all the good fortune either. But there are usually some experiences we can point to that, while they were difficult at the time, we now see how God was bringing about something good.
It is well for us to consider what good God has brought out of tough situations in our past, but what about the future? Romans 8:28 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That verse is encouraging for past trials, and can be immensely comforting during current trials, so why not allow it to quiet our worries about the future as well?
As I look forward at 2016, I see a lot of potential difficulties. We will be finishing up our partnership development (potential to be under-funded), moving to Florida (potential for all kinds of complications and stress), beginning a new career (potential for failures and dissatisfaction), and finding a church (potential for frustration and social rejection). When I think of potential complications like those, I try to think of how I will weather that storm, or how I can avoid the pain. In light of Romans 8:28, however, maybe I should be praising God for all the good He will bring about through my circumstances in 2016. Because I serve a God who knows the future and has left me His Word to tell me certain things about it, I can literally look back on 2016 and know that God is using everything that will happen for my good. And that’s good… better than I could do.