‘But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 3: 13b-14.
As we stand at the threshold of a new year amid the pain and suffering in the Holy Land and other places in the world, there is a lot of fear and anxiety about what this year will bring. However, we need to decide what we will focus on in the coming year as there is an enormous spiritual battle taking place for the hearts and minds of people.
After his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, Paul who was called as an apostle to the Gentiles, suffered enormous physical, emotional, and spiritual pain during his ministry. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, mocked, ridiculed, and spent many days and nights without food or shelter. These traumatic events gave him many reasons to become bitter and resentful and to dwell on past injustices and painful memories.
However, in his letter to the believers in the city of Philippi he says that he maintained a single focus – to forget what lay behind him, and to stain forwards to what lies ahead! He did this because his focus was always on the goal of gaining the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He says elsewhere that he did not consider our present sufferings worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us (see Romans 8: 18), and that we must keep our eyes on the things that are eternal not temporal (see 2 Corinthians 4:18).
In the coming year, let us resolve by God’s grace to follow Paul’s example by forgetting what lies behind us in 2023 and straining towards God’s purposes for our lives by keeping our eyes on Jesus the author and completer of our faith as we enter 2024! Let us also continue to pray for the peace and justice of God’s kingdom to come to the Holy Land and other troubled regions of the world in the coming months and seek to be peacemakers in our own areas of influence.
With best wishes for a healthy, joyful, and fruitful year ahead!