The New Year is a gift of God. New Year is a gift that God especially gives to us to start afresh. God is the One who renews all creation. God made us into a new creation when we believed Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). To us, who became new, God gave a new spirit, new song, new language, new heart, and new dream. God is the One who renews our youth like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:5). As another year passes by, how can we celebrate the new year with hope?
First, in order to celebrate a new year with hope, we must let go of our past. We cannot turn back the past. Some people live each day of their lives in misery because they are caught up in their past. The past is not all that bad. We all have a good past that we ought to embrace in our hearts. It is wise to embrace the grace that we have received from God in the past. It is good to remember the beautiful memories of love in our hearts. However, there are things that we must let go in our experiences of the past. We must move on from the pains, mistakes, failures, and sins of the past. Confess your sins. Bring your pains before the cross and be healed. Learn from your mistakes and failures and let them go.
Some of the past is no help to us whatsoever. I’m sorry but some of our pasts are like garbage. Garbage should be discarded. No one regretfully disposes their garbage. When we dispose garbage, the odor from garbage disappears, and the house becomes clean. No one piles up their garbage and treats it as a treasure. Even so, we have a tendency not to clean up the garbage of our hearts well. A wise person knows how to dispose of the garbage of one’s heart regularly. Emptying leads to filling. A process of emptying functions like a magnet that draws in good things of life.
Second, in order to celebrate a hopeful new year, we must resolve our failures. Those who live their lives wisely are good at resolving their failures. When we are good at resolving our failures, we are able to move toward the hopeful future. In order for us to move toward the future together, we must resolve the failures of our past well. We are fearful of failing. We think that we have failed in lives when we experience failure. We draw back and become disheartened because of failure. However, failure is not a stop sign. Failure is a sign that tells us to try again but with different approach. In the process of our growth, we must consider failure as natural and allow our failures to be a great teacher that helps us to grow. Professor NanDo Kim teaches us the wisdom of dealing with our failure through his recent book.
“Failure is like a common cold. Everyone gets it. And it’s not because of any particular mistake. You become well when time passes. No one becomes so disheartened from common cold that he or she gives up life. Do not be discouraged. This is how we must treat our failure… Failure is like dumbbells that help us to develop the muscle of hope in a gym called life. Hold your fist tightly as you experience failures, and look straight ahead as you fall into the pit of despair. And develop the muscle of hope. Only hope is the medicine for failure.” (NanDo Kim, Even the Moment of Weakening is Part of My Life)
Third, in order to celebrate a hopeful new year, we must embrace a holy expectation in our heart. Jesus often said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” Faith is holy expectation. Faith is desiring. Faith is craving. Faith is a desperate hope. Having faith may seem easy but it’s not easy. To have faith means to want change. A blind person needs great courage and resolution in order to have faith to see. A person who repeatedly failed needs great courage and resolution in order to dream of leaping to success. It is a huge courage and resolution for the one who’s been sick for 38 years to have faith to be healed. Holy expectation means to challenge life in a new way. It speaks of new transformation. A butterfly begins its life as an egg, and then it transforms from egg to caterpillar, caterpillar to cocoon, and cocoon to butterfly. In order for us to let go of our past selves and transform into new selves, we need courage. If we are stagnant and complacent at our current selves, we will definitely not be able to gain beautiful wings like a butterfly. The wings of a butterfly are the fruit of courage and suffering. Please let go of your past for your hopeful new year. Resolve it well. Most of all, celebrate the new year together with God with holy expectation. I pray for abundant blessings of God on your family as you wait for hopeful new year.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.