2023: Looking Forward

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

What are you looking forward to in 2023? I ask because our God is a forward-looking God, as Isaiah 43:18-19 clearly states. While the evil one exploits the past as a tool to paralyze us with the brokenness in and around us, God declares that brokenness can be forgiven and is being redeemed: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

While the evil one desires that we fixate on the circumstances around us and despair, our gracious God invites us to trust His promise that His purposes will not be thwarted for us personally or for the universe as a whole: “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:4-5)

Perhaps the question is not “to what are we looking forward,” but rather “at whom are we looking?” Much rests upon where we place our focus in this coming year. If we get bogged down in the circumstances and pain around us, we run the risk of being incapacitated, much as Elisha’s servant did upon seeing the enemy army surrounding Dothan (2 Kings 6:13-17). I smile knowingly when I read the servant’s question as he announces this apparent disaster to Elisha: “‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) Elisha, unshaken, prays for a focus-shifting moment that transforms the servant’s perspective: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17)

As we step into 2023, are we focused on past brokenness or future hope? Are we focused on the surrounding enemy army or the angels that surround us? Are we focused on the giant looming before us or the God who slays giants (1 Samuel 17)? Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) gives us this encouragement: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…then you won’t become weary and give up.

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