The last day of 2021. It seems almost surreal that another year is finishing. Today I caught up with accumulated mail which included Christmas greetings from friends and family.

As I perused the letters included with cards, as well as some Facebook greetings, I noticed how well these recaps were a fitting closure to the year. The writings touched on the high points of the past year, noting the gifts and blessings received as well as acknowledging the hard points of the year. Perhaps that is what I have been pointing to all week — a Christmas letter.

I will finish this year with a word of encouragement from the writing of Joshua.

6Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6-9

Because our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, I take away several comforts from this passage. First, he has a plan for me. Just as he chose Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the promised land, he has chosen me for a specific purpose. His plan is for my good and not my harm and it will use my unique gifts, talents and resources.

Secondly, he gifted me his Word — the Bible — to guide me. If I keep it ever before me, I will be just fine.

Finally, I can be strong and courageous in the New Year because God is with me where ever I go. I am never alone.

The repetition of a phrase – be strong and courageous – is a literary device intended to strengthen the phrase and make it more memorable. Think about your own experiences; when you repeat a phrase to your children, for instance, why do you do it? Are you thinking they may not listen the first time? Is it to reinforce the importance of what you are saying? Is it to seal it in their memory? Regardless of the reason, repetition highlights the importance of the phrase.

In this situation, it is imperative we understand that we can go forward into the new year, or into any situation, with strength and courage. Why? Because God is with us and he has prepared us for this exact time!

So let’s get at it!


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