New year, really?

The fireworks displays in Sydney, Nashville, and villages and hamlets around the world have come, blown sky high, and fallen and collected into yesterday's rubbish bin. And the oohs and aahs, the videos on smartphones and the drunken revelry are a fading memory. Maybe a haunting shake of the head accompanies that fading. Across the nations hope was springing into conversations, filling resolution envelopes, and making some refuse their first drink, their first or third burger of the night. For whatever reason, the world stops and notices the timing and calendar-changing each 1 January.

People have been back to the malls for days since Christmas, exchanging their unwanted sweaters and toys, in hopes of finding another good gift to their satisfaction.

In Australia it's the middle of summer; in the US it's winter, just having passed the solstice. In Singapore the temperature never really cares what the calendar discloses. But whatever the season, we long for hope. Real hope. That's the stuff of superheroes and of Jane Austen novels. That's why we watch to the end of movies, and why we endured high school. When the boss tells you again about your failings, and yet doesn't fire you, and the next day you return to work, it's full of hope, that things might actually change. Things might be different.

I'm a hopeful golfer. That may be a redundant description. Why else do golfers return to the course week after week? Yes, once in a while we hit an exceptional shot, sink a long putt on an undulating green, and punch a recovery shot through some patch of trees onto the fairway. But most duffers like me, and that would include most of the people reading this blog, return to the golf course, hoping that the next 18 will be at least as good as last time, and maybe even better. We grab the 6-iron because that should land on the green and stick. We even wear the clothes that should keep us warm or dry enough no matter what happens during the next four hours.

However, hope among golfers is often dashed. Reality bites and we fall back to normal and less-than-better. The putt goes left instead of our anticipated right turn near the hole. The 6-iron sends the ball 15 metres further than the green, and deep in the back bunker. After all, we are just who we are. We are not Tom or Bubba Watson. We are not Jack Nicklaus. We are just us.

Still, hope makes sense. Not because 2016 was better than 2015. Not because 2010 was better than 2009. But because eternity is better than what we have on fallen earth. There will be a better place; there will be better days. On what do I base that conclusion? My own life? Today? Not even close. I'm in desperately despairing days just now. The hope I have is one based on the Messiah who looked at our being brought back into relationship with the Almighty, and went through hell to get us there. Literally. The pain and suffering Messiah endured was for a reason. Actually for many reasons.

God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.

The Son loved us enough to go through the darkness of despair, of separation from the Father for the first and only time in history, taking our sins upon Himself to accomplish the Great Exchange. This exchange tops anything in any mall anywhere. It's written like this in Paul's letter to the believers in Corinth.
"God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5.21) That's what Yeshua (Jesus) did for us. Willingly. Fully aware of what would happen. And what is happening each time we turn in faith to receive the Great Exchange.

I count the Bible as trustworthy.
I count the Lord of Heaven and earth as trustworthy.
I have hope because of Him.
So can you.

Happy 2017.


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