A lot of people have claimed that 2016 was a terrible year. Spend a few minutes on Facebook, Twitter, or the news and you'll hear about celebrity deaths, shootings, racism, terrorism, natural disasters, refugees, and a general absence of love. People around us are hoping that 2017 will be better, that somehow bad things won't happen, and that we humans would finally learn to love each other. They place their hope in luck, innate goodness, or a political leader. I believe that 2017 will be a good year, but for a very different reason than a lot of others. I also think that 2016 was a good year for this same reason: even though bad things have happened and will continue to happen, I serve a God who knows the end from the beginning, is sovereign over everything, and continues to love me unconditionally.

I'm reading through the Bible chronologically again this year and today's reading was from the book of Job. I know we spent an entire quarter on this book last year, but something he said seemed to resonate with me as we face a new year. After losing his children, his fortune, and his health, Job's wife counsels him to curse God and die. Job responds, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10). It's easy to praise God when things are going well. It's natural to thank Him for the good things He does for us. But it tends to be so much more difficult to praise Him when trouble comes. 2017 will be no different from 2016 when it comes to deaths, shootings, racism, terrorism, natural disasters, refugees, and lack of love. I know this because I know there is evil in the world. But I also know that the God who knows the end from the beginning and loves me unconditionally is ultimately sovereign over everything. And friends, that is enough to make me excited for this new year!

Hello 2017,

Pastor Sutherland