There is excitement and trepidation as a new year begins. Hope and wonder and a chance for a new start, or “something wicked this way comes”. There is much to be unsure of – who knows what the future holds? The believer and follower of Jesus can and must rejoice in the Lord always. He is for you; what can stand against you? No weapon formed against you will prosper! But, fear and frustration are real. How do we deal with uncertainty and hard times?
John Calvin offers this helpful reminder: “How many unforeseen events are we exposed to in this life! We are continually harassed by one illness or another; the plague advances. We are heart-broken by the calamities of war, and frost and hail render the land barren and leave us with little, devouring our expectation for the year’s crop. Husband, wife, parents, children, and close relatives and friends are snatched away by death; homes are consumed by fire. These are events that make men curse their lives, despise the day they were born, hold in contempt heaven and its light, rage against God, and, being fluent in blasphemy, accuse God of unfairness and cruelty. But the believer must in the same circumstances consider the mercy and fatherly kindness of God. If the believer should see his house made lonely by the loss of those nearest to him, even then he must not stop praising the Lord. Instead, he must turn himself to this thought: “The Lord’s grace continues to dwell in my home and will not leave it desolate.” If the believer should see his crops consumed by drought, disease, or frost, or trampled down by hail, and if famine threatens him, even then he must not despair within his soul, nor should he become angry toward God. Rather, he can persist with confidence in this truth: “But we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever” (Psalm 79:13). God will provide for us, however barren the land. If the believer is afflicted by illness, he must not be so stung by the severity of hardship that he erupts in impatience and demands an explanation from God. Instead, he must recall himself to patience, remembering the justice and gentleness of God’s discipline. Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart because he knows it is ordained by the Lord. And, he must not stubbornly resist the rule of God into whose power he has placed himself and all his affairs. God’s hand is the sole judge and governor of every fortune. His hand is not recklessly driven to fury; it distributes to us both good and ill according to His orderly righteousness.”