God has given us a superlative treasure to sustain us through the uncertainty and unsettling of a new year.
Each new year is a marker. It signals that we have completed a revolution of days and an entirely new cycle has begun. It is also a time when we have uncertain optimism for progress and prosperity. It is uncertain because only God knows what the future holds. It is optimistic because we know who holds the future.
Thus, we enter 2023 with uncertain optimism because we believe God has better in store for us, but the pathway and process to better could be a Red Sea, Saul’s javelin, or Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. And to be honest, we’d rather not know. Because if God showed us what it will take to get us to better, we’d respectfully decline His offer. So, He asks us to trust Him to be consistently God—which means He is consistently gracious, merciful, trustworthy, and sovereign.
2022 was a grind. We went through some challenges but overcame them. We took on more responsibility but prospered because of it. And we discovered just how dependent we are on the Lord and embraced it.
Now we stand at the foot of the mountain called 2023, prepared to climb once again. Experience has taught us that we will make it to the top, but the journey to get there remains unclear. But the joy is in the journey. We don’t want participation trophies that we didn’t earn; we want to celebrate the triumph of overcoming many dangers, toils, and snares. That’s the grit God’s children are made of.
We Have Treasure in Us
Paul knew this better than most, as he explained to his Corinthian converts who were wavering in their commitment to him in lieu of some slick talking super apostles: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7, NASB).
There are two important lessons Paul teaches us about the grit of our grind.
1. We have more than what we are. There are many views about the treasure Paul is referring to. And, yes, in every believer is the presence of the Holy Spirit. He certainly is a treasure that is contained in our frail human vessels. He leads and guides us and regenerates and sanctifies us. If He doesn’t classify as a treasure, nothing does. But I believe Paul has something else in mind.
As an apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, Paul was responsible for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. A gospel that makes known God’s salvation to humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this gospel, which shines into the hearts of every man and woman, that opens their spiritual understanding to the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Like Paul, we have a mandate from God to share the treasure of His gospel to everyone we meet. When we look at our faults, failures, and shortcomings, we recognize that we are fragile clay pots that are not worth much at a rummage sale. But thanks be to God that He saw fit to place His treasure in us! And like any treasure chest, we must open the chest by opening our mouths to tell others about the wonderful gift of salvation we have in Jesus.
2. What we have reflects whose we are. Being God’s treasure chest comes with some fine print. His treasure chests experience affliction, perplexity, persecution, and association with Christ’s death. To what degree our treasure chests will experience these treasure tests is uncertain, but Paul assures us that the efficacious working of God’s power in these dangers, toils, and snares is certain.
In fact, Paul boasts that God places His treasure in us so that He gets the glory from His magnanimous power that is showcased through us. That is, God’s power protects us from crushing, despair, forsakenness, and destruction. It is the joy we experience along the journey. It is the trophy of being more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus.
This is why we can enter each new year with courageous optimism, knowing that, somehow and someway, God’s going to get the glory from our story. When people look at what we’ve endured, we can point them to Jesus. When they ask us how we overcame our hardships, we can tell them about the power of Christ in our lives.
Someone might ask how the gospel can be a treasure. The answer is quite simple: Because Jesus lives, we can face tomorrow. The gospel assures us of God’s grace today and His glory tomorrow. So, no matter what we face in 2023, we face it in the grace and glory of God!
Twin Towers of Dual Power
When we look back at September 2001 and February 2020, we remember the unthinkable events that have forever changed how we live. From grandma being searched at the airport to us not being allowed to participate in certain activities without a vaccination card, life as we knew it was changed. But we don’t enter each year worried about what new tragedy will strike; instead, we enter it with a dogged determination that if God is for us, who or what can be against us.
We have the treasure of the gospel, as well as the treasure of the Holy Spirit. Together they are the twin towers of God’s salvation to humanity through us and God’s sustaining power in us. It takes grit to enter each new year; and it takes grind to endure the unknowns that come along with it. But it’s what we do because of the treasure we have.
Rev. Isaac Hayes is the founder of Healing of the Soul Ministries and author of Men After God’s Heart: 10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.