Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 13, 2003
Pastor's Column

Another new year, but let it not be the same as last

By Rev. Robert Ramphal
Oster First Covenant Church, Waverly

In the Old Testament in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verses 9-14 we read, "What do we gain by all our hard work?"

I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future.

I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, because God's gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this so we will worship him.

As we read this passage of Scripture, we become aware of several things. God makes everything happen at the right time. Perhaps the past year has been very difficult due to circumstances that you feel that were beyond your control.

You may have lost your job, your financial investments were diminished considerably by the downturn in the stock market, your health has deteriorated to the point where you are always in pain, you may have lost a loved one, perhaps you have been having a difficult time supporting your family both financially and physically, maybe school has been hard and you are not doing so good in your classes, and your community is suffering from a weather-related devastation.

So now you are asking what good can I expect this coming year?

You feel the law of average is that things will continue to be the same and many of these problems will follow into the new year. You may have reached the point where you have lost hope.

You may be wondering how you are going to make out especially when you see all those credit card bills coming in from the Christmas holidays.

The writer of Ecclesiastes has an answer for you. He says God makes everything happen at the right time. The right time is not your time. Man's time always seems to be the right time, but yet we know in our hearts that that is not God's time.

If we truly know God and our Christian faith is strong in him, we will know the right time as God speaks to us in our quiet times of devotion.

We cannot rush God and tell him to hurry up and solve these problems which seem unbearable. God knows what you are going through, but with this experience and testing you will come out of all this wiser and stronger, and therein lies the lesson.

Because you are his children, God will take care of you, but please do not try to manipulate him. He will provide for you because he has promised to do so.

The second thing God wants us to do is to enjoy life. He says his gift to us is happiness which we get from food, drink, and the work we do. These things give a sense of satisfaction.

However, they are not the sole means to happiness. God wants us to enjoy the simple things he has given us. Do not take for granted the food, drink, and work we do.

These things are provisions for our survival, both physically and mentally. We have to develop an appreciation for the little we have in order to enjoy the abundance God will provide in due time. If you are a poor steward of the little God has given you, then you certainly will be a poor steward with more.

Let it not be the same as usual. Grow in every way and your changing life will become more enjoyable. God does not want us to repeat ourselves year after year, but grow and add from year to year.

Twenty years of the same experience of each year is only one year's experience and growth, but 20 years of growing and adding experiences are 20 years of new and invigorating happiness. God wants us to enjoy our food, drink, and work, and these are not selfishness or sinful pleasures.

These things are gifts from God. There is a third point to this scriptural lesson. Everything that God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God is not fickle-minded. He will always take care of his children. You are his family. He has been doing this for ages.

His gifts are not like broken toys or broken machinery or broken and obsolete computers and cars. His gifts are durable, relevant, and can sustain the elements of time and space. We serve God because he is changeless, consistent, and relevant to our world. Without him, we are most miserable.

Just like the eternal life he has promised all those who are believers in Christ, everything he does will last forever.

Lastly, as a result of all these things God will do for us, we cannot escape the desire to worship him. God has done all this so we will worship him. Our appreciation of everything in and around us grows ever deeper. We feel a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Whenever we are satisfied customers, we generally thank the business place, but it is so much more with God that we want to get on our knees and thank and worship him. We become grateful for what he has done and thankful for the path he has shown us to happiness in him.

So, let this new year be different and more fulfilling. Let it add to the dimension of your spiritual growth.

Become stronger, wiser, more experienced and more loving of God and your fellow man and commend this new year to God and you will find blessings and prosperity in numerous ways that you have never imagined to be possible. God bless you and your entire family.


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