Make the Best of the Worst

I can think of no better Bible verse for the new year than Philippians 3:13: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The Apostle Paul doesn’t say what he’d like to forget about the past, but I wonder whether he has his murderous history as a persecutor of Christians in mind. Whatever he’s referring to, he offers us a good spiritual strategy for moving into 2015.

No matter what the past year brought us, it’s best to keep moving forward with eager anticipation of what lies ahead in God’s future. This is a wise and healthy perspective, but it’s not easy to achieve.

Some of us suffered devastating losses or setbacks in 2014. My experience is that we never forget our deepest wounds. They are always with us, and, like Jacob of old, we walk with a limp.

How we relate to our wounds makes all the difference. From a Christian perspective, no matter how painful our wounds may be, it’s possible for God’s grace to heal them. I think that’s what the Apostle Paul has in mind — that we can “forget” our wounds to the extent that we surrender them to the Lord.

We don’t have the answers for how to live beyond our losses and setbacks, but God does, and as we continue to trust in his care and providence, miracles break into our lives when we least expect them. I dearly love the turn of the year because it reminds us of this powerful truth. The past is over and done with, but the story of our future is yet to be written, and here’s the amazing part: We get to be the authors of our own personal script with God’s help.

How do we not get stuck in the sorrows and regrets of the past? I know of only one way: We have to keep choosing hope over and over again. Hope really is a choice, as is discouragement, as is resignation or despair.

Here and now, I recommit myself to choosing hope every single day of 2015. Please join me in making this commitment! It’s the best choice for making the year ahead your best ever.

What a joy it will be to come together on the first Sunday of a new year, to seek the Lord together in faith, and to begin our journey into God’s future by sharing the Lord’s Supper!

I look forward to greeting and welcoming you with love to 2015 at Community Church of Providence.

Grace, peace, and blessings,

Evan Howard,