Column: Overcoming our Fears of a New Year…
By Drew Williams
I wonder how many of us stand at the dawn of a new year and feel more apprehension than excitement. Jesus is faithful to meet us here, but without His help, fear can be enormously disabling in our walk with God. There is, of course, a healthy fear or reverence of God — but there is also a fear of inadequacy, a fear of failure or a fear of disappointing people. Surprisingly this kind of fear has much more to do with pride. Isaiah records the Lord’s promise, “I, I am He that comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12).
It is curious that the Lord would say, “Who are you that you are afraid?” But the truth is that God knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He sees clearly that my fear is so often a manifestation of my pride. The Lord very emphatically says, “I, I am He that comforts you!” And yet fear barges in and tries to take over God’s role of protector and guide and comforter. It’s as if fear climbs up on God’s throne and presumes to say, “Don’t do that; you could get hurt! You’ll be humiliated.” Fear presumes to set its wisdom above the wisdom of God. As we step into 2019, who are we really trusting? Our emotions and all that feels safe, comfortable, “doable” in our own strength, or the promises of God — which of course are so much bigger?
On the cusp of 1940 King George VI made his broadcast to the nation. World War II had begun. No one knew, at this point in the war, if the allied troops would win. The king, however, closed his address with a poem: “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’”
The poem, called “God Knows,” was from a collection, The Desert, published in 1908 by Minnie Lousie Haskins. Neither the poem nor its author was well known. Indeed, Miss Haskins (a grocer’s daughter who lived in Warmley, Bristol, England) had no inkling that the king would use her words to speak peace to a troubled nation on the brink of the new year. She didn’t even hear the broadcast. “I heard the quotation read in a summary of the speech,” she told The Daily Telegraph the following day. “I thought the words sounded familiar and suddenly it dawned on me that they were out of my little book.”
Almost eighty years later, as we look toward 2019, the fuller rendering of Miss Haskin’s poem is a good reminder of the Hand we are invited to take hold of and the promises of One who longs to take us by the hand:
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.
This new year, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you, the Lord fill you with a true and lasting hope and a greater joy than the world can give, the Lord make you and those you love to live and thrive in peace and dwell in safety, and the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you at the dawn of 2019 and always.
Drew Williams is Senior Pastor of Trinity Church. Visit trinitychurch.life