I’ve seen lots of posts hating 2016, but our family had a good year. There were challenges, but lots of blessings too. Our baby was born. We were all basically healthy. Good jobs. Good family and friends. Enough money to repair the cars when we needed to. We could go on date night usually once every other month. We’re still growing in the Lord and learning what it means to stand on His supernatural promises. We’re attending a good church—nothing fancy, but a faithful pastor, and loving, normal, unpretentious people.
It was a good year. I’m thankful to God for it.
You might not have had much hope in 2016. You might not have much hope in 2017. I’m thankful for my circumstances, but I try not to put my hope in them. That’s hard to do. And it’s easy to say I have hope when my circumstances are good. But they weren’t always that way.
I put my hope in Jesus, and give thanks for my circumstances. I don’t know if you know Jesus. I don’t know what you believe in. I was raised an atheist for most of my childhood, in a deeply secular city. I had no idea who Jesus was. Never heard His name until later in life. I thought the cross had something to do with math. In other words, I know what it’s like to have a secular worldview. There’s not much hope, except for what you try to muster up for yourself. You try to pull yourself up by your moral bootstraps as much as you can. (Of course, you’ve probably made up your own morality, so there’s not much comfort in that.) Mostly, you try to find pleasure where you can. But pleasure is fleeting. It doesn’t stick. It doesn’t last. It’s there and then it’s gone. Sometimes you spend so much time looking for pleasure, you forget to look for the good things that last a lifetime.
One lesson I keep on learning again and again is you never really learn something until you investigate it for yourself. People tell me what to believe, but I always have to look into things for myself. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. It could be the most familiar thing in the world, but unless you look into it for yourself, you just never know the truth of it. I was told there was no God. They were wrong.
I meet lots of people who rejected Jesus because someone told them to. They grew up near a Church, in the Bible Belt, and maybe even attended services a couple of time of year, and think that means they “know” all there is to know about Jesus, and reject Him out of hand. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t let this be second-hand information. If you haven’t had much hope for 2016, and aren’t sure about 2017, I would invite you to look into what Jesus said for yourself. Don’t you want to know the truth for yourself? Whoever you are––atheist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Presbyterian, Mormon, whatever. Truth is truth. If what Jesus said was true, it’s true for you. Truth is universal, no matter who or what your grandparents believed in. Some traditions are good. Some are bad. It all depends if they’re true. And you can’t know if it’s true, unless you investigate. So many people just skim by on life, seldom thinking about deeper questions, and almost never investigating them. If you don’t have hope, I invite you to read Jesus’ words for yourself. Look at His life. I found there was a power to those words that I couldn’t explain. There’s an authority to them. And I believed in Him. And everything changed.
Someone recently asked me if I was a Winnie-the-Pooh character, who would I be? That was easy. When I was 17, I would have been Eeyore. I was Eeyore all through high school. I was always tired. Depressed. Not much hope. I had good friends to help, but…My family is well familiar with depression and suicide. That was going to be me. But Jesus changed me. Not over night, but over time. I believed in Jesus 21 years ago, when I was 17, and He’s been working on me ever since. I’m not Eeyore anymore. I have hope now. Jesus gives me hope. If you didn’t have hope in 2016, and aren’t sure about 2017, why not pick up a New Testament, maybe one where Jesus’ words are printed in red, and read what He said for yourself? Truth is truth. And if what Jesus said was true, don’t you want to find out? If you don’t have hope, what do you have to lose?