Why Christians Have Reason for Hope
in the Coming Year

“What good things are you expecting in 2013?” was the question that suddenly rolled out of my mouth to a homeless man I had just encountered a few days ago in Syracuse, NY. I was taking a prayer walk in the area of our hotel when I overtook this homeless man pushing a shopping cart containing his few meager belongings. When I posed the question there was no hesitation as he replied, “I want a roof over my head and I want to be closer to God.” His answer prompted a prayer together and a brief exchange; but even more it highlighted to me that God wants His people--even those in those most painful and debilitating circumstances--to expect good things during the coming year.

I think one reason many evangelical Christians in America are not expecting good things in 2013 is that they, like many Jews of the first century, have been looking for a political Messiah. The majority of Jews in the first century were looking for a political Messiah who would deliver them from the hated Romans. In a similar way, many evangelical Christians have been looking for a political Messiah who will deliver them from Obama, the Democrats, and the far left. But the politician in whom they put their hopes lost the election. A reporter with one of the largest Christian news organizations in the country told me how he was so depressed after the presidential election he could hardly get out of bed. “Our entire organization,” he said, “is so politically minded that we were all depressed after the election.”

Consider the contrast with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were also depressed because their Messiah, it appeared, had lost, being crucified by the very Romans that they had hoped to be delivered from (Luke 24:12-34). Jesus joined them on their seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus but they did not recognize Him in His resurrected form. His first words to them was a question, Why are you so sad? They responded by explaining how the One they thought was their Messiah had been arrested and crucified. Jesus responded by taking them from Genesis to Malachi and showing them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27), i.e., giving them a more Biblical perspective of the role of the Messiah.

When they later sat down for a meal and Jesus broke bread, their eyes were suddenly opened and they recognized Him. At that moment He disappeared from their midst. Even though it was late, they were so elated that they immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples that they had seen Jesus and He was alive. At that moment, it didn't really matter about the Romans, the Herodians, or the Sadducees. Jesus was alive and everything else faded in the blazing light of the realization that Jesus had conquered death and was alive forever more.

And I want to ask my fellow believers who are still sad and depressed because of the last election; in the words of Jesus, Why are you so sad? The really important things have not changed. God is still on His throne. Jesus is still at His right hand with all authority in heaven and in earth. The Holy Spirit is still being poured out in all the earth. What good things are you expecting in 2013?