Article From the Magazine:

What We Can Expect

By David Jeremiah

We never know what a year will bring. Take 1919, for example—one hundred years ago. The world was recoiling from the 1918 influenza pandemic that affected a third of the world’s population. On January 15, a large storage tank burst at the Purity Distilling Company in Boston, sending a wall of molasses through the streets at 35 miles an hour, killing 21 people and injuring 150. On January 16, the eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, prohibiting the sale of alcohol. In June, another Amendment passed, giving women the right to vote. In 1919 the Grand Canyon became a national park; and in June, the first transatlantic air travel occurred when Jon Alcock and Arthur Brown flew from Newfoundland to Ireland.  In September the Florida Keys Hurricane killed more than 600 people. The next month, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, but the First Lady hid the news and began running the country herself. A week later the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series in one of the greatest scandals in baseball history.

Amid the affairs and disasters of 1919, a lot of babies were born, including journalist Andy Rooney, entertainers Liberace and Tennessee Ernie Ford, singer Nat King Cole, and atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Among the obituaries was Theodore Roosevelt, who died in his sleep at age sixty on January 6, 1919.

Some of these events grabbled the headlines; others occurred quietly—but in a multitude of ways our world has never been the same. Yet we could say that about every year in history. Each year has consisted of events—sometimes stunning and sometimes obscure—that have changed the course of our planet for good or ill.

We don’t know what 2019 will hold for any of us; it too will change history. But I can tell you one thing that has never changed: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The psalmist said, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). And James 1:17 describes our God as “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

“Time is filled with swift transition,” said Jennie Wilson. But she went on to say: “Build your hopes on things eternal, hold to God’s unchanging hand.”1

It isn’t fate, but faith, that determines how we handle unfolding events. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty in our world, but of this I’m very certain—God does not change, and His grace is sufficient.

His Years Have No End

That’s the lesson of Psalm 102, which was written by a man struggling with unexpected events. The introduction of the Psalm says, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.” That gets our attention, doesn’t it? We’re all sometimes afflicted, overwhelmed, and prone to complain.

The first eleven verses of Psalm 102 express the man’s deep distress. “My heart is stricken and withered like grass,” he said in verse 4. “I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop” (verses 6-7). This psalmist was haunted by fears about the brevity of life. “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass,” he wrote (verse 11).

But in verse 12, the man found a ledge of certainty on which to plant his foot. “But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations” (verse 12). He grasped something important: God’s timetable—“the set time”—was unassailable (verse 13). The writer looked forward and anticipated the consummation of the ages: “So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory” (verses 15-16). He wrote, “This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” (verse 18).

He ended his Psalm with something akin to a New Year’s prayer: “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure…You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (verses 24-27).

What a great thought for the new year! God’s years have no end, for He is eternal and everlasting, abiding forever.

Our Years Have No End

Because God’s years have no end, we can share in the privilege of eternal life which is offered through the grace of Jesus Christ. Our Lord said of His followers, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

In uncertain times, we have the security of eternal life. We have certainty. We can act on what we know rather than being paralyzed by what we don’t know. The times may change, but the promises of God don’t. His goodness doesn’t waver; “His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

What, then, can we expect this year?

We can expect an unchanging God to bear us through changing times. We can embrace the certainty of Christ in an uncertain world. We can expect tragedies to befall the world, but we’re to be God’s hands to help others deal with them. We can expect crises to strike some of our friends, but we can be channels of God’s strength. We can expect politics to tie our nation into knots, but we can pray for our leaders and take our stand for Christ in a darkened age. We can expect persecution to worsen, but we can stand alongside God’s oppressed people. If poverty worsens, we can be generous. If conflict strikes, we can be peacemakers. If a friend falls into sin, we can speak truth in love and offer grace.

This year we can expect breaking news to flash across our televisions and smartphones—why is everything now breaking news?—but we can capitalize on every event to share the Good News. God has brought us into a new year to share Jesus Christ with a new generation, and we should take advantage of every opportunity. There’s never been a greater year for missions—for sharing Christ as a personal missionary wherever we go. This should be the year for saying kind words, offering kind deeds, uplifting all we meet, and smiling to those who need an encouraging word. We can expect the world to spin at one thousand miles an hour as it always has; and you can expect God to use His people to minister His grace as the world turns.

Earth’s Years Are Coming to an End

God’s years have no end, and neither do ours when we’re in Christ. The last stanza of “Amazing Grace” is true: When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.

But one day our planet will enter its last year. The Bible says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:10-12).

We don’t know how many years are left for planet earth, but we’re closer to the return of Christ than we’ve ever been. What if it were today? Let’s live as though we are expecting Jesus to return at any moment. The times are changing, but He is not. The days are evil, but His grace is always sufficient.

We never know when a wall of molasses will head our way, but one thing is certain—there is no variation or shadow of turning with the Father of lights. He gives stability to His redeemed people, enabling them—you and me—to further His unfailing message. This year let’s hold to God’s unchanging hand, and let’s hold out a hand of compassion to our changing world.


1Jennie Wilson, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand,” 1906.

  • In a world infatuated with power, most of us feel powerless

    Share This Quote:  

  • Find Turning Point on television and radio

    Find Turning Point on television and radio

    Enter either your area code, zip code, or city and state:

    Submit
  • Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

    Subscribe today!

    Request your subscription to Turning Points magazine today!

    Subscribe
  • God’s power is an overcoming power,

    Share This Quote:  

This article was first published in Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.
Learn more about the magazine and request your free copies today!