A HYMN OF GLORY LET US SING
For most, the turning of the year is a time of personal reckoning. We look at where we have been, where we are now, and where we hope to be in the future. Often, this yearly appraisal can be discouraging because we notice how many things we have either left undone or done poorly in the previous year, and we are hesitant to believe the next will be any improvement. Our God promises, however, that whether past, the present, or future; He is there to bless us with His love.
From the pen of the German hymn writer Paul Gerhardt come many of the most loved and widely used Christian poems. His hymn of trust, “Evening and Morning,” is classic Gerhardt and very appropriate for singing at New Year. The stanzas found in modern Lutheran hymnals direct our attention to God’s love for us:
In the Past
Isn’t it true that without the hand of God actively working in our lives, none of us ever would have survived the past year? Every evening and morning, Sunset and dawning, He has been there to supply everything we need for this body and life. Wealth, peace, and gladness, Comfort in sadness—these are His works that He has done for us because He is our dear Father in heaven. “He has given me my body and life . . . my mind, and all my senses and still keeps them for me” (Small Catechism, Article I). Surely times without number we have been preserved from danger, dangers which we usually did not even notice!
In the Present
In the “now,” we always need the Gospel of Christ. For we daily sin much, and our repentant hearts repeatedly look heavenward for reassurance of forgiveness and peace with God. The hymn’s second verse brings this prayer to the Lord: Father, oh, hear me, / Pardon and spare me; / Calm all my terrors, / Blot out my errors / That by Your eyes they may no more be scanned. Can He answer this prayer right now, today, in this new year? For the sake of the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ,
He most certainly does hide His face from our sins and blots out all our iniquities (compare Psalm 51:9). “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.”
(Psalm 65:3 NIV84)
In the Future
What will the coming year bring? If it brings sorrow, we have the assurance of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (NIV84). Gerhardt captures this in his third verse: Ills that still grieve me / Soon are to leave me; / Though billows tower / And winds gain power, / After the storm the fair sun shows its face. If we are weeping, will tomorrow be the end of it, or the next day? God knows best, but we are confident that even if grief should trouble us all this next year, soon will come the eternal day when all storms shall cease. My joys increasing, / My peace never ceasing, / These I shall treasure / And share in full measure / When in His mansions God grants me a place.
God is with you evening and morning! Praise to Him who forgives our past, strengthens us in the present, and guards our futures—every year and into eternity. “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:8 NIV84).
David Schaller is pastor of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sister Lakes, Michigan. He also prepares the “Bread of Life” devotions for the Lutheran Spokesman.