With a Hope and a Prayer
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
We step into a new year with a hope and a prayer. We are wise enough to know that the future is unknown to us. We are bold enough to expect that the new year will be good to us.
The greeting, “Happy New Year!” is a wish. Our hope stands on something more solid. We call it a sure hope because it rests in a future that is certain. It is God-guaranteed.
“I know the plans I have for you…” The One who speaks those words is not wishing good things for us, he is preparing them.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Harm is what we fear. Prosper is what we pray for.
However, to prosper does not mean that we become rich or famous—not in God’s book. The word Jeremiah used for prosper is the same as the word for peace. The warrior understands the value of peace better than most people.
Peace among nations reduces potential harm. Peace among comrades is a blessing. Peace within families is a treasure. Peace of mind is beyond value.
But all this pales in comparison to peace with God.
The echo of the voices of the Christmas angels still sounds in our ears. If there is peace between us and God, then everything is all right. Then everything is good. Then we have nothing to fear.
Dangers may arise and doubts may beckon. Our plans may come to nothing. God’s plans are always certain.
Who can oppose him? Can enemies or accidents or disease or frailty stop what he has in mind for us?
Name the threat that the new year might bring. Match that threat against the eternal, all-powerful One. Which is going to win? Which is going to fade like the fog?
The Christ of Christmas still rules heaven and earth. If he leads us through the dark valleys of life, he will be there to carry us to the bright peaks of life.
Our prayer for the new year is a big prayer. We skip over the little things that may bother us, but pass in time. We don’t want to just survive . We want victory.
That means, we want God.
That is our prayer.
We pray words from the Christmas hymn we once sang with child-like faith:
Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with you there. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military