Happy New Year! Perhaps. Perhaps not, depending on which “side” you are on, or where you’ve placed your chips. Happiness is fickle.
“I hope next year will be better than last year.” Always there is this kind of expressed hope as we put the year behind us. Not to be a pessimist, but really? With a countdown and timed lowering of some ball in Time Square; with a massive fireworks display from some prominent bridge; with a passionate kiss and some memorable song, we assume that we can magically usher out the previous year, “stage left,” and bring in the new year, “stage right.” Then, all will be happy, right? Yet, we often become less happy, even more angry, than last year.
Hopeful? Yes. Key though, is not that we will be hopeful, but what we will be hopeful about. Our hope should not hang on the single peg of The Government, whoever’s administration it may be. Neither should our hope rest on the health of The Economy, whoever is driving it. In the same way, our hope should not be placed on The Church; whoever is the charismatic leader or inspirational voice. Why? There is a reason.
Everything fluctuates. Like the value of gold, or the tides upon shifting sands, such hopes rise and advance, only to later fall and recede. As the Scriptures say, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Things come and they go. People come and go, as does popularity. Still, we must always be hopeful, as we put the year behind us, but in What? In Whom?
Hope must stand and hold its ground. It cannot waver in withering winds of resistance. It cannot falter when seismic shifts of change occur. It must be certain and secure. It must BE, “against all hope,” like Abraham (Romans 4:17-18). Hope is what is left when there is nothing else on which to hold.
If you are like me, you want to be hopeful, but also certain of where your hope is placed. Way too many times I have been painfully disappointed and discouraged by that which once held me up. I have seen many promises made, while few kept. I have looked to higher institutions, but they have squandered their authority while failing in their responsibility. With so much corruption, compromise, unfairness, injustice, dishonesty, and hypocrisy all around and within, earthly hopes become easily dismayed as they, like the news, lack certainty.
Only one Hope remains. There is only one sole Place where my hope belongs. There is only one solitary Person in whom to hope—the person of Jesus Christ. My hope is placed there, in Christ alone. All else eventually fails, even my own health. My disability has shown me that. I am convinced, down to my last breath, that my Hope must ultimately, above all else, focus on Christ Jesus, apart from whom I have no hope at all. So, as his disciple I must continually seek to, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12).
Now, where is your hope? In these coming days, with all the unknowns, where you and I place our hope will absolutely determine how happy we will be. In light of that, this much I do know, the difference between one year and the next is only one day. I am completely certain of this. There is no magic in it, but there is Hope.