There’s no use denying it any longer: 2012 is here! As we enter into this “New Year,” all sorts of new experiences come with it: new hopes and new fears for what the new year may bring; new possibilities – as well as the feelings of regret and loss that can come as time marches on. With all of the unknowns in the future, feelings of anxiety, fear, curiosity, or hope can settle into all of our hearts. But no matter what 2012 brings with it for good or for bad, Christians have a rock-solid confidence in two important doctrines: God’s sovereignty over 2012, and God’s providence for 2012.
The Sovereignty of God over 2012
No matter what the new year brings, we can be sure of this: God is in control of 2012. All times are in His hand, and since He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Revelation 1:8), we know that He makes the ends known from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Every day that we live in 2012 has already been written in His book (Psalm 139:16), and nothing that happens to us can happen apart from His will. Life and death, health and sickness are in His hands (Deuteronomy 32:39). Neither a sparrow (Matthew 10:29 – 31) nor a hair from your head (Luke 21:16 – 18) can fall apart from God’s will. So for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, the future of the new year doesn’t need to be a scary thing, because He has promised that all things will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). As we make our plans for 2012, we should recognize God’s absolute power and control over all the decisions we make, and ultimately entrust ourselves and our plans to Him (James 4:13 – 17).
The Providence of God for 2012
Our Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as “the almighty and ever present power of God by which He upholds all things by His hand – heaven, earth, and all creatures; and so rules them that… all things come to us not by chance but from His fatherly hand” (LD 10, Q. 27). So not only is God completely in control of all things (His sovereignty), but He is also leading and guiding all things as if by His own powerful hand (His providence). God has “determined the times and set the places” where we will live (Acts 17:26), He engineers the rise and fall of nations (Psalm 46:6; Proverbs 21:1), and He holds and directs all things by His “hand” (Colossians 1:16-17). When we combine the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and providence in our minds as we look ahead for 2012, three things emerge. First, we should be grateful when we experience joys and success, because we know we have received these from our Father’s hand (Deuteronomy 8:10; I Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:17). When things do not go so well, and we experience hardship, trial, loss or bitterness, let us be patient, knowing that God will give us grace to bear up, that He is testing and refining our faith, and teaching us to boast and glory in Christ alone (Job 1:21-22; James 1:3; II Corinthians 12:7-9). Lastly, we can look to the future unafraid, because we know that “nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
God’s To-Do List for You for 2012
So when we see this from God’s Word, it is helpful to remember that “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). One aspect of God’s sovereignty is that He has pre-planned good works for you to do! And one aspect of His providence is that He is guiding us by His fatherly hand to “walk in them,” or in other words, to practice these good works. So that raises an important question for Christians in 2012: what good works has God ordained for you to practice this year? Where is the Holy Spirit leading you to glorify Jesus by acts of service, love, and self-sacrifice? Remembering His sovereignty, we are confident that nothing can prevent us from serving Him; and relying on His providence, we are empowered to know that He is guiding us into these good works. As we live in light of God’s sovereignty and providence, may 2012 be the year we all shine as stars in a darkened world, that others would see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (I Peter 2:12).
Praying with you for good works in light of His sovereignty and providence,