Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Relate: My sister is a Booktuber. If you have no idea what that is, you’re in good company. I had no idea myself until she started doing it. She will get on Youtube and post a video once or twice a week talking about the books she has read. Apparently, there’s a whole community of people out there doing this and she is popular enough that she has used it to turn two of her favorite things (talking and reading… in that order) into a way to make a fair bit of money.
Over Christmas, she did a live session with me as a guest. We talked about books as well as plenty of random other stuff with a good 70 or so people chatting live with us. Near the end, she had a list of mostly book and New Year’s related questions. One of those was to use one word to describe what you hope 2021 will be like. Immediately, my answer was the same most of those who typed in a response. We all said, “Better.”
React: When I saw Psalms 4:6, I just had to grin. David’s question seems to be the cry of the heart of a vast majority of the people who have lived through 2020. We are all hoping that ’21 will be a better year than ’20. The scary thing is, as low as that bar might be, there is no guarantee that it will be. As Pastor Will said in yesterday’s message, “Just because the calendar has rolled over doesn’t mean our problems have all magically gone away.” We are all still wearing masks. We are all still social distancing. Many of us are still tightening our financial belts wondering when things will start looking up. I know more than one family in the US whose stimulus check went in its entirety to pay past due rent. I also know landlords who are losing serious money because by law they aren’t allowed to evict unpaying tenants but that doesn’t mean they can forgo their mortgage payments.
For many… God willing, for most, this coming year will be a better year than the one that has just passed. But that is no guarantee. And David knows it. The very next thing he says is, “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests.” In other words, You’ve given me more joy than those who are striking it rich. David recognized that his joy was not dependant on external circumstances but rather in his satisfaction in God. Paul said it this way, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been broke. I have learned to be content in every situation.” (Philippians 4:12 BJV) Habakkuk said the same thing when he wrote, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)
My hope for us all is that 2021 brings you better times than we might have experienced in 2020. But even more my hope is that we come to realize on an ever deeper level that those “better times” are in no way related to our external circumstances.
I pray that this year will bring an end to the fear, both legitimate and imagined, that COVID19 gave us. I pray that I, and all those reading, will be healthy and will not have to spend sleepless nights wondering how they will be able to afford to keep the lights on and put food on the table. I pray for peace in anxious hearts and that the new normal we have yet to find would be even better than the old. But even more, I pray that I, and everyone reading this would draw closer to You in this coming year than we ever imagined possible. Help us to realize that our joy comes from You and not from our health or wealth.
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To read previous devotionals taken from the January 1st The River Walk devotionals click below: