Each of us has hopes and expectations for the year ahead. We hope - of course - that our lives will be fruitful and comfortable, but we don’t actually know what awaits us on our journey through 2018.
Anyone with a basic knowledge of the Bible's story knows that God doesn't promise an easy path for his people. Jesus said on the matter, “The gate that leads to life is narrow, and the road is hard.” So please forgive me for pointing out this obvious truth: there will be challenges and difficulties in the coming year.
When Jesus was a small tot, his mother, Mary, had been through a tough year. In addition to the usual discomforts and indignities of pregnancy, she had seen her proposed marriage teeter on the verge of divorce; she had been forced to relocate to an unfamiliar town, 100 miles from home; and she had ended up laying her newborn son in an animals’ food trough because there was no space anywhere else. She must have been hoping that the coming year would be a bit easier. Little did Mary know that the paranoid ruler of Judea, Herod the Great, was about to order the execution of every baby boy in Bethlehem.
God doesn’t promise an easy path for his people. Not even for his own son.
However, God doesn’t simply abandon us to disaster. He may not protect us from difficulty, but he does provide for us when it comes. The day before Mary was forced to flee, a group of wealthy priest/magicians turned up at their home. These unlikely visitors affirmed Mary in the importance of her little child. They also provided her with valuable trading goods (frankincense & myrrh, along with gold). Little did Mary know, as she received those unexpected gifts, how useful they would be in the very near future.
God was not going to spare his loved ones from life’s difficulties, but he did ensure that they were suitably provided for as they fled to Egypt in the middle of the night.
We have no idea what lies ahead of us in this new year; it won’t all be easy, for sure. God won’t insulate us from difficulties, that’s not his way, but he will ensure that we have what we need to get through them.