It is that time of the year again when we review and reflect upon the key events of the past year. Sadly, despite all the positives, considering some of the negative worldwide events in 2017, one could almost call it another “annus horribilis”, a Latin phrase used by Queen Elizabeth II in November 1992 to describe the royal family’s year. You may have guessed already, but it means “horrible year” (the opposite of “annus mirabilis” meaning “wonderful year”).
So, can I ask you, which of these two Latin terms describes your life in 2017?
Then, the second thing that happens at this time of the year are predictions concerning the future.
On the website msn.com (27.12.17) there is an interesting article with the title “Stephen Hawking Predictions of 2017” and I quote:
“Thanks to modern day healthcare, 100 years is nearly a lifetime, but this May, Hawking proposed that this is how long humans have left on Earth, Wired reported. This is a stark shift backward from the 1,000 years’ time limit that Hawking had predicted in 2016.
According to Hawking in his BBC science series, Tomorrow’s World, climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth are to blame for the new century-long doomsday clock.”
He adds “that humanity’s natural greed would impede us from being able to properly address [these] problems, and that inevitably our best bet is to leave Earth completely…and repopulate somewhere else in the universe, either on a spacecraft or on another planet. The physicist warned that if humans don’t become a multi-planetary species and settle on other worlds, our species could die out within the next century.”
So, if the past events didn’t cause you to feel down about the state of mankind then this prediction (believe it or not) may – unless you know the omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) God and take into account that He is in control.
Psalm 30 uses some words and phrases which are relevant to all the above. David sounds like, just maybe, he had had an “annus horribilis”. He speaks of haven been “down in the dumps”, as we might say, and is thankful to God for helping him through some difficult times and giving him hope for the future. Listen to his words:
1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
Later he says:
11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
The psalmist has a simple answer concerning how to deal with hard times – including depressing news about the events of the past and the gloomy predictions for the future – call out to God for help! And in the same way that when we reach out to anyone (parent, friend, doctor, counsellor) to help in our times of need, we need to understand and believe that God is ready and willing to help. This certainly was the psalmist’s experience and it can be yours and mine in this coming year.
The reality is that no matter how bad the events of the previous year were and how gloomy the predictions for the future, the last word spoken will not be from people like Stephen Hawking but will be from God. God and God alone created all things – scientists just discover the wonders and complexity of this creation. God and God alone sustains his creation -while we go about our selfish ways seeking to exploit it. God and God alone knows when the creation as we know it will end as recorded in the Bible as follows:
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
Then in Peter’s second letter he writes:
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him… But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3)
I think that maybe Mr Hawking should listen to Handel’s Messiah, especially the Hallelujah Chorus, which reminds us of what the Bible teaches concerning God’s sovereignty over his creation:
Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. The kingdom of this world Is become the kingdom of our Lord, And of His Christ And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords, And He shall reign forever and ever, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Father, thank you for being with us in 2017 and we are so very grateful that you have promised to be with us in 2018. No matter what life brings we have this confidence that you, the omnipotent God, reign and one day we will all bow the knee before you acknowledging that you are Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Amen.