Today marks the beginning of a New Year and with it hope for all that might happen. As we look back on 2017 it would be foolish to say it was the best of times, but can we say it was the worst of times. 2017 came with a great deal of stress, tension, natural and manmade disasters. But what lessons did we learn along the way? In who are we placing our hope for 2018? Are we holding onto luck or is there something better?
Bad Luck? Good Luck?
There is an old fable of a farmer whose horse ran away. When the farmer’s neighbor heard he said, “What bad luck.” The farmer replied “Bad luck? Good luck? What do I know about such things?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses. The neighbor said to the farmer, “What good luck.” The farmer replied, “Luck, what do I know of such things.”
While the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his arm. When the farmer’s neighbor heard he said, “What bad luck.” The farmer replied “Bad luck? Good luck? What do I know about such things?”
Some weeks later, a rough gang of men marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken arm, they passed him by.
Whether your view of 2017 as one filled with bad luck or good luck, know that we know so little of such things.
We are incapable of knowing fully the purpose or plan God has for us. We must trust more fully, wait patiently for God’s timing, and put our faith and hope in the promises of God and not man.
It is the Christian’s responsibility to respond to injustice with lament. Lamentations, the Psalms, Prophets, and Gospels are all filled with examples of God’s people crying out in the midst of evil and oppression. When faced with the world’s wounds, the reality of the cost of peace, and the pain of humankind how can you not fall on your face and weep?
The farmer in the above story is passive. He lets the punches roll with no emotion. While the overall message is clear, our minds have such small pictures of the overall stories we are interwoven into, the farmer appears apathetic and unconcerned with whether or not fortune or pain falls on him and those he loves. As Christians, we can take this analogy to far. A flippant God’s got this is a dismissal of the responsibility that each of us has to enact change. God does have this, he’s got the details under control, and yet God has called each of us to be active participants in our own stories,
We must learn to grieve in order to enact change. Our inability to grieve with the injured and acknowledge that there should be better is exactly what is holding us back from forward movement. We must learn from the mistakes of our past and our present in order to make tomorrow better. We are not called to do that alone. We are called to stand together in community, to acknowledge our sins together, to grieve together, and to find a way forward together. We are called to rely on the author and perfector of our faith in doing so. We are called to trust in the promises of God.
Trust Not In Luck, Politicians, or People.
It is easy in the aftermath of 2017 with its earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, injustice, racial tensions, and political unease for us to get stuck. We suppress our feelings of grief and they turn to apathy. We are called to lament and yet we are not called to stay there. We are not to become captive to the emotions, when we do so we fall into doubt that God’s goodness can save us or redeem our people. We trust the promises of politicians and people with power but have trouble believing the promises God has made.
Lessons From 2017
2017 has taught us to speak up. Every voice matters. It has taught us to believe others, even when their stories are uncomfortable and demand we act. It has taught us to raise children who are bold. 2017 has taught us to be aware of our historical past in order to enact change in our future. It is time to stand with the oppressed and to move forward with both prayer and action.
May your 2018 be spectacular. May you accomplish all that God has put on your heart. May you stand with the oppressed, speak up for the hurting, and change the world.