You may have seen the cartoon depicting an aerial view of a guy sauntering down a city sidewalk, past a high-rise building, approaching an intersection. His head’s held high, he’s whistling … and totally oblivious.
The view from above shows a rhinoceros on the cross street—head down, charging at full speed. Unbeknownst to the man or the beast, these two are about to meet at the corner. The outcome will be disastrous. Especially for the human.
The new year may bring things you’re expecting. A new job or baby. A new house or new city. The vacation you’ve been saving for. The degree you’ve been working toward. You’ve already put these on your calendar.
But—and you’re not going to be shocked by this news—there are going to be surprises. In addition to the good things you’re anticipating, this coming year you may encounter some unexpected, rhino-like calamities. Over the years, various friends of ours have been hit head-on with pain that blindsided them:
- A mate announced he reconnected with an old flame and wants out of the marriage.
- An unknown intruder broke into a college student’s apartment, assaulting and nearly killing her.
- A woman suffered multiple painful miscarriages and is unable to carry a child to term.
- A young adult child stormed out the door in open rebellion. To this day, his parents have no idea where he is or if they’ll ever see him again.
- A doctor relayed the grim report: “Your cancer is back. It’s stage 4.”
The Author of a new year
The author of Hebrews urges us not to throw in the towel when we face seasons of hardship (as we all certainly will): “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Notice the race we’re running is not entirely one we’ve planned for. We didn’t enter this address into our GPS at the outset of the course. No, this race was “set before us.”
Envision the blind corner around the edge of that building and the huge, angry animal headed for the intersection—with you coming from the other direction, whistling a happy tune.
In the new year, it may be a puppy bounding down the sidewalk to meet you at the corner. Or it may be a charging rhino.
Between us, we have received many desirable blessings over the course of our lives. Meaningful work. Good health. Provision for our basic needs. The encouragement of loving friends and families. Five years ago, through a remarkable series of events, our lives intersected—a 67-year-old widower and a 57-year-old woman who never married. Our marriage in this autumn season has been a sweet gift from God.
Twists and turns
But we also had some life-altering experiences that felt something like run-ins with rhinos. Losing a wife to cancer after nearly 45 years of marriage (Robert). The death of a 22-year-old brother in a car wreck (Nancy). The sudden loss of a business that provided my family’s livelihood (Robert). The unexpected death of my dad, leaving my 40-year-old mother widowed with seven children, ages 8 to 21 (Nancy).
We couldn’t have seen these events coming, and we never would have chosen them to be part of our story. But we’ve been comforted again and again by the assurance that we have a Father in heaven who has an aerial view of all things and that none of these events caught Him off-guard. We have come to believe with all our hearts that He is good, wise, and loving, and He makes no mistakes.
As we look back on the twists and turns of past years and wonder what lies before us in the year ahead, there is one thing of which we are certain: We can trust God to write our story.
It’s a race
The race that is set before us has been planned by a God who loves us and wants only the best for us. Come what may. And the prescription for facing the unknown with hope is simply this: “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Peace in the face of tomorrow’s trials is not found in a plan, but in a Person. He knows you. He cares about you. He loves you. He is with you.
These truths will anchor your heart throughout a new year. A new decade. Whatever may be just around the corner, you can trust God to write your story.
Copyright © 2019 Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an author, speaker, and founder of Revive Our Hearts Ministries. She and Robert author, speaker, and literary agent co-authored the recently released You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, from Moody Publishers. Find more information here.