Because of my reading schedule, I read the entire Bible in less than a year. This means that at each New Year’s Day, I am beginning the Bible at a different point. I like that because it takes my reading out of the “routine” and keeps things fresh. This particular New Year’s Day, the reading takes on a different, a more personal poignancy from this special timing.
January 1, 2020 — From my Bible reading journal.
The first verse of the new year yields such a lesson that I won’t be able to tell it all (John 21:25). It just cannot all be written! In fact, even the very first word is just far too grand!
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
As I read that first verse, I had to pause, ponder, then read it again as it took my breath away. Going through word by word yielded a richness which was most needful this day.
God — What is contained in that single word can never be penned. I then meditated on the list of ways in which God is my refuge — that list is innumerable. The myriad ways that God is my strength is beyond counting. Our help in time of trouble has no end of the telling.
My soul, keep reading, there is more to the lesson. This entire Psalm brings in my new year with strength and courage.
I am given verse one to demonstrate the utter grandeur of my God. Then verse 2 begins with, Therefore! This tells me to hold verse one in mind because I’ll need what I’ve learned therein. Because of the grandness of my God in verse one, as I move through verses 2-9, I will not fear, though the earth be removed, and mountains cast into the sea. Because of the sure promises of God, though the mountains shake, the waters roar, and the waves crash over my head, I will not fear.
Then, as almost a parenthetical, a peaceful resting point, I come to verses 4-5. In the midst of the calamities, and tribulations, frights, and fears, there is a river to make glad the holy city of God. Here I am reminded in that in that Holy Tabernacle, my strength, my refuge, my help, is God Himself. She, the city of God, shall not be moved! This realigns my focus, taking it off the difficulties of life and placing it back on the God of creation. Then, just as quickly, in verses 6-9, I again see war, and desolation; the raging heathen with spears, and chariots, and fire. But I am yet strengthened in all that as I continue to behold the works of the Lord.
Where is my focus as I head into this new year?
Be still and know that I am God,
The Lord of hosts is with [me];
the God of Jacob is [my] refuge. Selah
In my meditation, I changed the wording to give the verses a personal application (bracketed words). Surveying the sure troubles and trials of life from this grand view, I can see God’s eternal strength, His everlasting refuge, His timelessness which governs the universe. This shows me just how endurable and winnable my troubles are; with this view how temporal, and fleeting my trials become. This is my fortress and my hiding place — God’s eternal nature.
What a way to bring in the new year, and a new decade.