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I know who holds the future

It is good to be beginning a new year after what has been a very different and difficult year. However, significant uncertainties remain. Will the Covid-19 vaccination bring the pandemic to an end? When will life return to a more familiar pattern? How will school children and students cope with missing so much teaching time? Will people who have been made redundant be able to find new jobs? How will Britain fare outside the EU? In uncertain times faith in God makes all the difference. Knowing God means we can face whatever lies ahead of us in the strength he gives us.

In Psalm 139 David reflects on the fact that God knows him personally and cares for him. “You have searched me, O Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Singing praise to God and expressing our confidence in him gives us strength and hope. We may be facing uncertainties in our personal lives, but God is eternal and unchanging, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

As we face a new year one popular hymn expresses the comfort and security we can find as we put our trust in God. “I do not know what lies ahead, the way I cannot see; yet One stands near to be my guide, he’ll show the way to me. I do not know how many days of life are mine to spend; but One who knows and cares for me will keep me to the end. I do not know the course ahead, what joys and griefs are there; but One is near who fully knows, I’ll trust his loving care. I know who holds the future, and he’ll guide me with his hand; with God things don’t just happen, everything by him is planned. So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all.”

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Thought

Give us this day our daily bread

24-Hour news coverage is a feature of modern life. Millions watch the various television news channels for as much as 8 hours a day. There is a fascination with the latest “breaking news” and with the reports through the day which concentrate on the “big” stories. People are afraid of missing something important. When big events happen the news coverage is saturated with the various angles of the story.

News reports give the impression that they are helping us to stay in touch with the real world but many of the stories they cover are not relevant to our daily lives. At best news reports give us a small, selective, sample of what is happening in the world. I watched a programme recently on D R Congo which described the genocide in that country over the past 15-20 years in which more than 6 million people have died. The reporter said it was the largest number of deaths in any country since the Second World War, yet there have been hardly any reports about it.

Our daily lives are not newsworthy. Most of our time is taken up with the ordinary routine of life. It is encouraging, therefore, to know that God cares about us and our ordinary lives even though we will never make the news headlines! He knows about the stresses and anxieties we experience and he cares about us. We are living in difficult economic times. For many families, unemployed people and pensioners it is hard to find the money for their daily needs. Billions of people in the world live on less than a dollar a day.

Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they are?”

As the winter comes to an end there are more birds around. They wake early to find their food for the day. Perhaps you put food out for them because you care about them. Jesus said that his heavenly Father cares about us very much and knows what we need. So he taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven…Give us this day our daily bread.”