Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
With all my heart I wish you a blessed new year in 2023 A.D.!
As He calls us to be confident in God’s mercy, the Lord makes us a promise, “Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?” (Lk. 18:7-8, CEV)
Let us remember that the Lord does not leave us alone, but He walks along with His faithful in the times of trials! The Scriptures testify that God did not deliver Daniel from the lions’ den, but He was with him and shut the lions’ mouths. The Lord did not deliver Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace, but He Himself was with them in the trying fire of the furnace and kept them. God did not wipe out the giants in the Promised Land, but He called His people to enter there and promised to be with them. As we enter the New Year 2023, let us remember that the Lord walks along with us, and whatever happens, let us keep the faith in His mercy and goodness toward all of us! As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28, ESV)
Thanks be to God that we have the wonderful privilege to put our hope not in the mythical concepts of “happiness,” “wellbeing,” and “wealth.” Our Hope, our Comforter and Source of joy has a specific name—the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have confidence in His mercy, we wait for His protection, we only trust His Word in this flimsy world. Christ alone is the source of everlasting joy which no one can ever take from us. He alone continues to be with us in any circumstances as He promised, He alone truly makes all things new:
“‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Rev. 21:4-5, ESV)
Blessed New Year! May God keep you!
Ivan Sergeyevich Laptev, Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia