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New Year - Less Fear

Mal Fletcher
Posted 31 December 2005
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Around the world today and throughout this coming week, people will be looking back at the highs and lows of 2005 and deciding what direction they’d like to take in the year ahead.

The news in 2005 was dominated so often with stories about fear; about events which might engender a very cautious approach to life, or in some cases even induce terror.

Last year kicked off with weeks of reporting about the Asian Tsunami, during which more than 200,000 people are believed to have died.

Mid-year, we were watching scenes of horror from downtown London, as emergency workers struggled bravely to deal with the aftermath of the terrorist bombings on the transport system.

This week, many of those workers have received just recognition in the Queen’s honours list.

Throughout the year, our newscasts announced devastating earthquakes in various corners of the world.

Our newspapers delivered expert prognostications about the problems of global warming on the natural environment and the challenges of globalisation for the world of business and consumerism.

Magazines and e-zines covered in detail the ongoing conflict in Iraq and its mounting toll in human lives.

At the same time, Africa and its chronic poverty received attention, especially through events like Live 8 and the ongoing public efforts of politicians and celebrities alike. TV pictures reminded us again and again just how awful is the suffering of the world’s poor.

These are certainly interesting times. For some people, though, they’re more than interesting – they’re frightening.

A Christmas TV news report covered the work of an English charity which has launched a twenty-four hour patrol of cliff-ridden coastal areas, on the look-out for potential suicides.

As a new year dawns, some people simply can’t see anything worth looking forward to. They are without hope in a world which, for them, has ceased to make any sense or offer any comfort.

This is not a time, though, to give in to fear.

Putting aside all the empty hype which surrounds New Year celebrations, most of it representing little more than a chance to drink too much, this is a time for looking forward to future possibilities rather than dwelling on missed opportunities.

Yes, each of us will do well to reflect on our successes and failures over the past twelve months. You can’t know where you need to go if you don’t know where you’ve been.

Yet too much wistful thinking can lead us down a never-ending road of regret and recrimination. Somewhere, we must draw a line under the past and move forward, with faith and hope that Someone up there is watching over his world and will help us not just to survive but to overcome.

A verse of scripture comes to mind: ‘Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it will be richly rewarded…’ (Hebrews 10:35).

The writer is speaking to the members of the early Christian church. ‘Don’t lose your confident belief in what Christ has done for you,’ he’s telling them. ‘Don’t let life push you around. Realise who you are – and whose you are – and move forward with boldness.’

Many normally irreligious people are willing to give at least a little thought to the spiritual state of their lives during the Christmas season; to reflect on what Christian ideas might mean to them.

I think, though, that the celebration of the New Year is an even better time for this. If there’s one thing that the New Testament of the Bible tells us it’s that faith can bring enormous boldness. Faith is about looking forward to a better future and taking risks to make our hopes into realities.

Faith is built on hope – it treats things which are not yet seen as though they are (Hebrews 11). It looks for the future fulfilment of God’s good and gracious promises.

When faith is part of everyday life, the hope that accompanies New Year can be more of a year-round sensation – and the fear which sometimes surrounds the New Year period can become a thing of the past.

For more along these lines, you like to read Mal's leadership piece for this month.

What’s your view?

Do you think 2006 will bring more good in your life than 2005?



Keywords: New Year | 2005 | 2006 | faith | terror | fear | suicide | New Year period | Christmas | scripture | hope | social comment | comment | Mal Fletcher

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