It’s past Christmas day, the modern date most people of the world set it to be. And exactly a week after, most people in the world celebrate the New Year, on January 1, of the Gregorian Calendar, the de facto international standard, used by most countries and people of the world for civil purposes. At the stroke of midnight, in whatever time zone you are, all sorts of revelries erupt, and the people rejoice at the coming of the new year. We greet each other “Happy New Year,” exchanging greetings and well wishes for the year to come, hopefully leaving behind the “bad” things of the “old year.” People set “New Year’s resolutions” hoping for better things, … as if we need to leave something bad behind … in the old year.
This year (2017 to 2018), we became more and more digital, and messages and greetings flowed electronically across the globe through social media, notably through Facebook and its Messenger. I doubt if anybody buys Christmas/New Year’s cards nowadays – Hallmark has to bow down to Pinterest, and GIFs ruled the ‘eve. Yesterday and today, one particular gif came a-flooding my phone – “Touch the Clock!,” it says. And my gosh, it was really a literal flood! I got one from almost all the names in my address book. At least three friends remarked, “maybe it’s a virus, don’t open it!” Immediately rebutted by many – “it’s nice – the bad things in 2017 will be erased, the new things will come in 2018.”
Let’s try to see what the Touch the Clock gif “erased” in 2017, the full hour between 11:00 PM to 12:00 Midnight – Stress, Anxiety, Disappointment, Diseases, Corruption, Hate, Setbacks, Failures, Regrets, Chaos, and Darkness. These are replaced in 2018 with Bright, Healthy, Successful, Prosperous, Peaceful, Exciting, Loving, Calm, Positive, Beautiful, and Hopeful. Now who wouldn’t want that? Still there seems to be a little off somewhere. Because basically, these are the very things we wish, each New Year’s Eve in the past, the things we say to our friends and loved ones, and the same things we maybe saying and wishing to each other on Dec. 31, 2018, next year, in anticipation of the year 2019. Which in fact, suggest that what we wished for did not and would not come true, and the same old undesirable things we want to dissociate with, persisted and will continue to persist. Year after year, we wish to discard the “bad” in the “old year” and wish each other the “good” things for the new year, only to may be get the same not so good things the new year after next. We are a very hopeful specie, and we always hope for better things only to fail during the year and get all those ” … diseases, corruption, hate, … darkness …” But no one can disagree with the thought – we are still hopeful and will probably do the same greetings next year, albeit, maybe in a different, more advance medium.
To make matters worse, we always invoke the name of God in our greetings and wishes, for indeed He is the source of all blessings and can definitely and decisively do ALL things that we wished for. So, if the things we want and we wish wouldn’t come to pass, do we blame it on God, or do we have to accept that things didn’t go as we wished and hope for basically because we ourselves failed? And if we keep on failing year after year, which prompts us to continue wishing for the good things each new year that comes, wouldn’t it be a good occasion to reflect on our own inner faith and conviction, belief and obedience to the Word of God and the prodding of the Holy Spirit, and see whether we are following God in accordance with His will. I believe New Year’s Eve is a good time as any, maybe probably a better time to commune with God and make right our personal relationship with Him. We may have plans of our own, but at the end, God’s way will prevail. “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21).
But then again, maybe we’re just plainly driven by tradition, magnified by the commercialism that pervades today’s culture during the Christmas and New Year holidays. In the olden days (I say that because I probably consider myself old already), we send Greeting Cards we buy from bookstores. Before that, and I couldn’t even remember, my mother still has copies of “telegrams” my father sent during the holidays, when he was working in a faraway place (the nearby province was far during those days). Who send telegrams now – have you seen one? Then there were the Easycall and Pocketbell beeps in the 1990s, followed by, for a long time, those cellphone “texts” which made millions for the telecom companies, their services literally slowed down on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 by the sheer volume of SMS messages. Now, it’s FB/Messenger and other social media, GIFs and videos, … but the message remain the same – good things in the new year to replace the bad of the old. It sure makes money!
But wait …
Isn’t it that there might be something we missed? We may have so many things to consider bad and unwanted in the old year, but isn’t it also true that there were good things that happened? For surely having 365 days (366 if leap) in a year can’t be that bad, there’s bound to be some things we were happy about – things that happen to our lives which made us better, which helped us, which improved us in more ways than one, and which, for those who rely on God, we most certainly are grateful for His dealings in our life. Come to think of it, isn’t it that “… we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)? Didn’t God promise us in Jeremiah 29:11, saying “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Certainly, we have many things to thank for, for what God has done for our lives in 2017, which we need to acknowledge and not discard, and throw away as bad things of the old year.
For indeed, while December 31 is “eve” to the New Year on January 1, it is still part of the old year, and what an apt and proper time it is to praise and thank the God for the wonderful year He gave to each and every one of us, and acknowledge the goodness of His grace and provision. So, while we are wont to say “Happy New Year” as we welcome 2018, we should spend the day in thanksgiving for God’s abundant favor to earth and man. The Psalmist declared:
You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges,
You soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.
You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.
The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.
In God’s eternal existence, we are just but a dot, nay, not even … and sinful at that, destined for eternal separation from Him who is the source of Life. But in His divine grace and mercy, He offered the ultimate sacrifice, left His heavenly abode, and became the Man, Jesus Christ, on that joyful Christmas night, destined to die on the Cross, that whosoever believes in Him, will have eternal life. We live years of our lives in search of truth and salvation, and for those who accepted the saving grace of Jesus and submitted to Him as our Lord and Savior, we live a life of faith and obedience, in praise and thanksgiving for what He does in our lives. Let us thank the Lord Jesus for every day of our lives, including the year past, as we welcome the new year ahead of us. The year end is not to discard the old, the year end is to to be a thanksgiving as He crowns the year with His goodness!
Happy New Year!