Summary: What we have this year may be the same as what we had last year. But we can make the old things new, with new perspective, new heart and new attitude. In the heart of a person, old things become new.
Our Gregorian calendar was arranged in reference to the ancient Roman calendar. Each month had a meaning. February was named because that was the time of the year for a feast called "Februa", which usually culminates on the 15th. Most of the months were named after the gods that the ancient Romans worshiped. March was named after "Mars", the god of war. April, after "Venus", the god of love; "Aphrodite" in Greek. May, after the goddess "Maia". June, after the goddess "Juno", the wife of Jupiter. The months of July and August were named after Gaius Julius Caesar and his successor, a distant nephew and adopted son, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. September, October, November, and December were named for the numbers seven, eight, nine, and ten in the Latin language. The ancient Roman calendar fell in that order.
But January, in the ancient Roman calendar, had an especially descriptive name. It is derived from the Latin word "janua", meaning a door, gate or pathway. Historians say that January is also derived from the name of the god "Janus", the Roman household god of doors and beginnings. He was a god that had two faces, facing in two directions. Basically, he was looking forward and backward. As we stand at the doorway in the month of January, we usually look back where we have come from. And we also look ahead to the days of the New Year where we are heading. As we move on to this year, we look at the days that have passed and the days that lie ahead.
In the time of Isaiah, he saw how the Assyrians conquering all hostile kingdoms like falling dominoes. The northern kingdom of Israel was not spared. The southern kingdom of Judah was next in line. The people of Judah had limited options - to retreat back to Egypt where their forefathers had been slaves and form an alliance; to surrender and give up their stand to the Assyrians; or to stand their ground, get themselves armed to the teeth and fight the marauding Assyrians like a lamb fight a hungry lion. Fear, failure or faith; which to take?
A chilly reality is that we are facing the same life, problems and struggles, this year as we had last year. Although new innovations are introduced in the market like a drag race, sometimes we feel like life is flat and dull. The same old horse with a brand new halter. We often felt tired and depressed faintly dragging our feet to get through each day. In spite of all the new things man makes, life seems like a worn out gadget. I suggest three things that one could do to make life feels like new.
1. Look Back and Appreciate!
2. Look Ahead and Anticipate!
3. Look within and Evaluate!
It is the attitude of the heart of a person that makes old things become new and exciting. It’s not how the world around us looks. It is how we look at the world around us.
1. Look Back and Appreciate!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” v.18
We look back and see global recession, wars, natural calamities and political turmoil all across the globe. What can we expect to see in a sin-wrecked world? But if we only focus our eyes on those grey spots, we’ll never see and appreciate the glorious sights that happened last year. We don’t need to look far back, just look a month back. We had Christmas and New Year celebrations. There are always a number of things and truths that we can thank God for.
a. God has FED us in the past.
You only need to face the bathroom mirror in the morning and you can see the additional pounds you gained in the past month, which you are now laboriously trying to drop. Our generation is alarmingly becoming an overweight generation, of course with the exception of those living in war and famine ravaged countries. That’s the material side of feeding. Spiritually, nourishment is available everywhere. The gospel has been made a ubiquitous commodity; thanks to the ever-improving technologies. Although spiritual feeding is available everywhere, many remain critically, few others terminally, malnourished.
b. God has FORGIVEN us on the past.
We look back once again and see our numerous sins and transgressions. We breach the standard of God by committing an evil act that blatantly violates His explicit precepts. We grieve the Holy Spirit by omitting a virtuous act that could have magnified His implicit principles. But God did not leave us nor did He abandon us in our bleak dungeon of self-condemnation. We always found grace wrapped with glittering forgiveness when we come to God with a contrite confession. Humanism has obscured the definition of confession. Showbiz enthusiasts paraphrase it, "let the whole world know". The word confession, "homologeo" in Greek, simply means, "To acknowledge or to agree". The grace of God takes us by a storm of forgiveness, clothes us with protective suits of security against guilt at the very moment we acknowledge our sins.