2017 was considered to be a terrible year by many. However, while most point to the election of our latest chief of state, or the end of Net Neutrality, or even the death of Hugh Hefner and other American entertainment icons to back up this statement, very few people look beyond surface level news to what is actually going on; then again, there might be a reason for that:

  1. Mexico: as of October 2017, there were 20,878 reported murders. This averages out to 69 reported murders per day. (ref)
  2. Venezuelan President urges population to eat rabbits to try and counter waves of starvation sweeping through his country. (ref)
  3. Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia consolidates power by jailing political opponents and confiscating their assets. (ref)
  4. European Union begins legal action against Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic for closing their borders to Muslim migrants from the Middle East. (ref)
  5. Hurricane Maria batters Puerto Rico, destroying massive amounts of infrastructure (ref)

Certainly, 2017 was a hard year for many -both on a global scale, but also through the various troubles and heartaches of everyday life; however, does this mean we look with hope that 2018 will be easier? Less destructive? Certainly that is something good to strive for, but it should not be the pinnacle of our hopes.  After all, Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matt 24.6). While the human reaction to the troubles of life is often fear and anxiety, Jesus states that these are not the correct responses. Addressing this very issue, Paul describes the mindset that all Christians should strive for in there lives: “[…]When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:1-2). Christ was the star that Paul sought to orbit. Did this mean that Paul did not suffer or watch others suffer? Certainly not, but it did shape his view of suffering -suffering in light of a future where all things are made new. It enabled him to love others genuinely and selflessly, even as Christ loves him, and meant that all circumstances, however painful, were not outside the control of his heavenly father and were not without purpose. Christ at the center will shape our ability to love those who hate us, comfort those who are suffering, have compassion on those who are wandering, and feed those who are hungry. May Paul’s words be in our hearts and prayers in this coming year: “I […] know nothing […] except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (2:2)

 

 

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