I don't think I've heard too many folks complaining about the end of 2008. Many of the things Americans put their hope, security and trust in were shaken this year. Real estate, the stock market and even employment and trust in our banking system are all in question. You see, our faith determines the value we place upon things. It also determines the direction things go.
In a few weeks, we will have another President. History is being made and he will face unparalleled economic and political challenges . I am expectant, hopeful and encouraged by the changes but I am quite concerned that the "Hope" he represents to many will be a high (and perhaps even impossible ) bar to attain.
This New Years Eve, we spent in Naples, Fla watching the sunset with some family and friends. It was awesome! Despite the fact that the value of Naples real estate has evaporated, there was still a beautiful celebration of the New Year arriving.
On the beach, as the sunset disappeared into the water, I was grateful and filled with joy and hope for our future. Not because we have a new President, or new administration or even because of the economic stimulus package is coming. I am hopeful because the sunrise and the sunset are daily dramatic reminders that God is still in control. No matter the temporal circumstances, there is another level to things that we may perceive but don't always see or understand. I am reminded that if we put our faith and hope in things that are temporal or even in very talented people, ultimately we will be disappointed. I'm also reminded that being challenged and uncomfortable aren't necessarily bad things. So as we enter 2009 boldly, let us consider these words from the Message:
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced out into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
The current state of America will not respond to a quick fix. Fundamental truths, values and foundations must be re-established for any change to be lasting.
So may each of us learn lessons from our past, be prepared to work through the process and show our 'true colors' of what it is to live a life worth living. May God help us become a nation worth following again by collectively reestablishing faith, hope and value in things that are good and true. These are the things that ultimately will stand the test and tides of time.