Daily attacks



There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.


This well-known passage comes from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. It comes to mind as I wonder what kind of year 2022 will be.



As we begin the new year, another great passage from the Old Testament comes to mind: But I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hands.


So declared David in Psalm 31.


As you can imagine, the Word of God has plenty to say about time. As we begin a new year, let the Word of God be our comfort and our guide.


Let’s return to Ecclesiastes.


Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.… Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what He has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future."




We do well to consider what the Psalms have to say:


Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.


Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath.


All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.



As you can imagine, Jesus had a thing or two to say about time. He shows us how to face the future:

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?


“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.



James has a warning for us as we begin a new year:


Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”


Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”



As 2022 gets under way, we do well to remember our baptism for it connects us to our Savior. It connects us to His death, His resurrection, and His return.


Paul writes about this to the Colossians:


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.



Down through the ages the people of God have thought about the art of living by faith. Our namesake was one of these.


Luther commented: The heart of man is a slippery thing: When matters go well, it falls into presumption; but when matters go badly, it falls into despair. This is why ours must be a mixed lot. God must throw one care after another into our prosperity, must salt it for us, and must dampen our high spirits with apprehension so that we stay with the First Commandment. When things go well with us, God dogs our footsteps with care so that we are constantly obliged to think: Now you are faring well, but God can surely turn the tables. Our troubles must also be tempered with some consolation so that we cling to God's promises and do not tempt God, who would be our God. In this way a man stays on the right road so that he does not despair in trouble but always stays standing and praises God, whether he fares well or ill, whether he wins or loses.



As we begin the new year, it brings to mind one of the great hymns of our faith: O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts.


O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal home:


Under the shadow of Thy throne

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone,

And our defense is sure.


Before the hills in order stood

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting Thou art God,

To endless years the same.


A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone,

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.


Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Soon bears us all away;

We fly forgotten as a dream

Dies at the op’ning day.


O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,

Be Thou our guard while troubles last

And our eternal home!



Watts’ hymn reminds me of something that C.S. Lewis wrote: “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”


As we enter the new year, we entrust our lives into God’s hands, remembering His promise: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."


As we enter the new year, we fix our eyes on our Savior, remembering: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."


Let us pray: Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Amen.





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