By LEONARD A JOHNSON
President of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists
In a few days, many will be saying the words goodbye to the old as they welcome a new year. This transition from old to new can signal a sort of completion and a chance to start over and learn from the past. Accordingly, I share the following with you as a challenge and encouragement.
The expression "it is over" signifies conclusion. Often heard at the close of the year, its utterance is often tied to some sort of emotion. For example, the unemployed may say these three words with heartfelt gratitude for making it through a challenging, financially-barren period. The grief-stricken may mournfully cry out at the memory of losing a loved one. And those who may have been at death's door or may have experienced the loss of homes or belongings, may shout the statement with joy at being alive. Then for the many who experienced their breakthroughs in 2017, whether it was a desired pregnancy, weight loss, accomplishment, or change in lifestyle resulting in a better quality of life, they may declare the three-word sentence with happiness. Nevertheless, the one sentiment that would be common to all would be that of thankfulness for making it through another year. The fact that there is still life is reason enough to celebrate. With the dawn of 2018, new opportunities and possibilities exist. Situations can change for the better.
A new beginning
Therefore, with a new slate, a new year, a new 12-month period, or fresh start, one could approach 2018 with optimism especially in the light of a life committed to God. As we consider the many promises such as Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (ESV); Or 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (ESV), it is clear that God has a purpose for us and does not want us to be fearful or anxious about anything. Fear robs us of life and energy that could be used to achieve so much. It prevents us from reasoning and trusting God for a needed breakthrough.
Accordingly, I implore of you, trust God for whatever you need to accomplish in 2018. Of course, your goals must be in accordance to His will for your life. He is able to do more than you can imagine, and He takes great delight in blessing people. After all, does not the well-known biblical passage say, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life?" This clearly speaks to God's love for humanity. So given this reality, I can be optimistic. However, it is necessary that one does his part. That is, in anticipation of a job, one must continue to apply and, while waiting, enhance skills and knowledge; or, if someone desires a spouse, pay attention to self and attend functions and events where one is likely to meet others. In other words, wishing is not enough. Being active in anticipation, while maintaining trust in God, is crucial for the desired outcome. Indeed, a new year offers opportunity for a fresh start or to try again.
Learning from the past
The change from the old to the new also offers opportunity to learn valuable lessons in moving forward. For instance, ask yourself, what did I do last year? Were my activities positive? How did they impact my life? What about friends? Were they positive? Were we helpful to each other? Did I grow as a result? What should I do differently? Essentially, we can benefit from the past by learning what not to do or how to do differently. Therefore, failures of the past can be the stepping stones to better things in a new year. Hence, I encourage positive thinking notwithstanding how difficult things have been or are, for there is always a way out with God.
UNC women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2013, survived, and on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, made history by joining the elite few in her field with her 1,000th career win. Life nor continuation of a successful career seemed possible four for her years ago. Likewise, you may not see a way out given your present condition of health or finances, but God can change anything; the key is to embrace Him and trust Him unreservedly. While I cannot tell you exactly what He will do and when He will do it, I can assure you that He will act in your behalf. The year 2018 can be a time of fulfilment with God! And the true happiness you will experience with Him will remain throughout the year!