Now, more than ever, the wish for a Happy New Year takes on significant meaning. The year 2008 may go down in history as one of the worst, similar to 1968. Unlike 1968, which was filled with bad news that generally didn’t affect most of us personally, the bad news of 2008 affected just about everyone personally. In addition to the economic hits that people were taking, we also had the usual life events: illnesses, deaths, and other personal tragedies. As Thomas Paine wrote during the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” (“The American Crisis”, Thomas Paine, 1776).
These are also the times when we lose faith in our institutions: the government, who was supposed to be protecting our interests; the financial markets, which we entrusted with our savings and our retirement funds; the real estate market; the economy; and Congress, which has a lower approval rating than the President. Hopefully we haven’t lost faith in God.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” I believe we are tough enough to get through this for several reasons. First and most importantly, we have our faith, which upholds us in the worst of times. The strong faith of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian arrested by the Gestapo, sustained her through the unimaginable horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. She survived, although her father and sister Betsy didn’t, and she went on to serve the Lord mightily after the war.
Second, we’re tough because we have hope. We have hope – no only because of our faith – but we know that eventually this crisis will pass. We’ve had a “perfect storm” of economic calamities that have resulted in the current situation, but ultimately things will turn around. While our lives might not ever be quite the same, things will get better than they are now. They won’t get better because of a new year, or probably even because of a new president, but they will get better because things run in cycles. The question is, how long will it take for these particularly nasty cycles to run their course? It could be a while – we just don’t know.
My hope is that the economy and financial markets will improve in 2009, but I also hope that people will turn to God through all of this. I’m hoping we as individuals and this nation as a whole will realize that we can’t keep pushing God out of our lives, and then expect to be blessed. We have been traveling paths that aren’t good, and I’m hoping that this economic turmoil will wake us up to the reality we not only need God in our lives, but God needs to be number one in our lives.
I pray that in this New Year you will commit to drawing closer to God by regularly attending worship, participating in one of our studies, and serving the Lord in some capacity. Things may get worse before they get better, and you’ll need the insight, strength, and guidance that can come only from knowing, loving, and serving God. May God bless you and keep you in this New Year.