Confident Anticipation
A Reflection for January 2017 by Richard Parrish


"The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you."  
– Psalm 33:17- 22 (ESV) [1]



In reflecting on events of 2016, I want to believe that we're ready for a new beginning. I know that's true for me.


Before Christmas last year, my twin granddaughters Larisa and Elena were presenting their piano recitals at their school's Christmas play. Their mom and dad were present. Their "Aunty Rhonda" had just returned from a business trip and had arrived straight from the airport. Together with proud grandparents, our family beamed with joy as we listened to our “twins’ recital.”


As I sat between Rochelle (the mother of the twins) and Rhonda, my oldest daughter, I was overtaken with emotions of relief and gratitude. The musical renditions performed by my granddaughters could not silence my thoughts: "My daughters are finished with their chemo and radiation treatments! Their prognosis is good, and health is returning to them."


Elated with a sense of relief and keenly aware of my gratitude to God who strengthened our family through 2016, the musical notes resonated with praise and thanksgiving. I smiled.


Many of my friends and neighbors have indicated that 2016 was unusually challenging for them, as well. Family illnesses, financial struggles, job relocations; and not to mention what seemed to be a year-long political frenzy filled with loathing and divisiveness.


However, despite our challenges of 2016, there's something about a New Year that generates excitement and anticipation. We encourage ourselves -- and others -- that this year will provide necessary change for our lives, our communities, nation, and the world. The celebration activities and parties on New Year day provide a temporary opportunity to forget what's behind and look forward to the possibilities before us.


It's not only nice to pause and refresh before tackling new resolutions and tasks; it's important. Not only can we discover areas that require course correction; we can also re-examine where -- and to whom -- we've been placing our hope.


There's something about a new beginning that sparks hope. And new beginnings are not possible without hope.


Helen Keller noted: "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."[2] Samuel Smiles reminds us: "Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us."[3]


Each of us, in the core of our being, has a sense of hope -- hope that this year will be better, more productive, and more peaceful! Despite our cautiousness and fears, we want confidence that tomorrow will be brighter than yesterday. We desire to have strength to endure, and wisdom to maneuver whatever tributary of life we may find ourselves.


The Psalmist reminds us of the importance of focusing our hope in the right direction. "The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue..." As much as we want leadership to save us from our dilemmas, if our trust is in anyone or anything other than the LORD, we are candidates for focus realignment.


When suffering continues, it's easy to think God fails to see -- or that he doesn't care. However, the Psalmist reminds us:  "...the eye of the Lord is on those who fear [reverence, acknowledge] him, on those who hope in his steadfast love..." To believe that God sees us and that his eye is on us for good (not harm) requires an act of faith. My lack of understanding does not invalidate that God sees and cares. Ben Carver writes:


"By integrating the stories of God's redemptive acts in the past with trusting human responses in the present, the faithful will experience the fullness of God's goodness both in the present and in the future."


Sometimes we have to remember the past intervention of the LORD to inspire hope for tomorrow.


I had no answers as to why my daughters (both of them at the same time) were required to endure the ugliness and exhausting trial of cancer. I would have done anything to spare them from this dreaded disease. However, we've observed the faithfulness of God and His steadfast love through this ordeal.


Somehow, when our focus of hope is in the LORD, the shadow of our burdens is cast behind us. My confidence for tomorrow is high because God sees and cares, even when I may not understand.


My prayer for you is that you will experience the steadfast love of God throughout this New Year.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ps 33:17–22.



●     Where did you observe God's faithfulness to you this past year?
●     How are you expressing thanksgiving for God's interventions?
●     What aspirations do you have as you begin a new year? Are you expressing those
       aspirations to God?
●     How are you discovering hope?