Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
On Wednesday, we took a moment to “look back” and consider all the wonders God has done throughout 2021. Today we will “look ahead” as we prepare to launch out into 2022.
“Happy New Year!” is a greeting you frequently hear at this time of year. That well-wishing will be particularly prevalent tomorrow, on New Year’s Day. Yet if “wishes” were all we had as believers to launch out into the year ahead, it would be a scant portion indeed. Christians have much more than a “hopeful greeting” given to us by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Today’s verse gives us the promise that God gave to Joshua – and to you and me as well: I will be with you wherever you go.
You may remember that Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land after Moses had completed his ministry of service to God. Joshua knew quite well the challenges he would face in leading God’s people. He had learned from Moses just how difficult the task would be. But he also knew that, just like Moses, he would not be alone in the work God had called him to perform. And the same is true for you and me as we begin our “forward march” into this new year.
To be sure, the new year brings with it questions and concerns . . . doubts and fears . . . obstacles and opportunities. Will the doctor give us a negative report on our health? Will we encounter professional challenges? Will our marriage of many years march on for many more? Will we suffer the loss of a loved one? Will the cost of living continue to rise? Will a deadly new variant of COVID sweep the country? The list of uncertainties is almost endless. Yet we can hold on to something infinitely greater than the mere hope for a “Happy New Year!” Why? Because God has promised that He will be with us wherever we go, and He has further promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
I want you to remember something in that promise. This “going with God” is not a going by chance. It is not a random roll of the dice. God is guiding, governing, and directing your every step. He is in sovereign control of everything; nothing is left to chance (Romans 11:36). So do not be discouraged! God’s promise is delivered to us to help us set aside every doubt, every fear, and to lean into God’s perfect plan and purpose for our lives.
One final point: Approximately 3,400 years after God told Joshua that He would be with him wherever he went, Jesus reaffirmed that promise before He ascended back to heaven: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Let me encourage you to look ahead into the year 2022 with confidence and boldness, knowing that Jesus goes before you as He goes with you, making your way straight, regardless of how many twists and turns you may encounter throughout this new year.
Now that is a great reason to greet people with a bright smile and exclaim, “Happy New Year!”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!