|Photo by Henry Mühlpfordt|
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Behold, I make all things new.
I love new beginnings. Fresh starts, fresh hopes. Where would we be without the hope that things can be made new?
"By this time next year . . ."
"Starting today, I’m going to . . ."
"In two months I’ll be . . ."
Still, sometimes I shake my head when I hear words like these coming out of my mouth. If I’m in a bad mood, they seem like evidence that I’ve been duped yet again by that old hope thing. Shame on you, I tell myself. You’re old enough to know better. How many more years are you going to believe "X" can change?
It’s hard to start another new year realizing that many of the hopes you had for the old one weren’t fulfilled, and it’s tempting to shield yourself from disappointment by deliberating hardening yourself into a state of indifference.
When our wished-for new beginnings fail—or we fail them—most of us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off (for a day or a month, maybe while vowing not to be fooled by hope again), then hope once more for something to be made new. And so on, and so on. After a few decades of this I-will-hope/I-won’t-hope cycle, you begin to understand why hope is a virtue. Because hope takes an act of will. And you can kill it if you wish. Killing it is easy compared to keeping it alive.
All this is not to say that hopes are never fulfilled or that new beginnings never come. They do. They just don’t come as often as we’d like or in the ways we’d like. Sometimes it seems like God is more than just a little late with doing a new thing.
Most of the time, it’s only by looking back over many years that we can see the new things that entered our lives. Like stepping stones in a river, leading us from one side to the other, these things were unremarkable as we set foot on them—just part of the scenery of life. But they led us from one bank of the river to the other, and crossing the Jordan in baby steps is no less of a miracle than running across the dry floor of the suddenly parted Red Sea.
To those of you who made new year’s resolutions and those of you who didn’t, to those of you who think it might be time to grow a callous on your heart and those of you who have decided to give hope another year, I wish you the best in 2012.