Strength for a new year

By J. R. Miller1

We ought to make something of every year. Each new year should be like a new step on the stairs, lifting our feet a little higher. We ought not to live any two years on the same plane.

Many Christians grow faint and weary in their tasks and duties. Routine is intensely wearisome. Tasks are large and exacting, life is dreary in its monotony, work seems ofttimes in vain. We sow and do not reap. We find disappointment and discouragement at many points. Hopes bright today lie like withered flowers tomorrow.

Some days we are discouraged, overwrought, vexed by cares, fretted by life’s myriad distractions, weary and faint from much burden-bearing. We sit down with our Bible and God speaks to us in its words of cheer:

“Let not your heart be troubled.”2

“Fear not, for I am with you.”3

“Cast your burden upon the Lord.”4

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.”5

“My grace is sufficient for you.”6

And as we ponder the words, the weariness is gone; we feel that we are growing strong; hope revives, courage returns. One who reads the Bible as God’s own Word and hears God’s voice in its promises, assurances, commands, and counsels is continually strengthened by it.

But there is something better than even this. God Himself comes into our lives with all His own love and grace. The prophet tells us this: “He gives power to the faint; to him who has no might He increases strength.” This means nothing less than that there is a direct importation of divine strength for God’s fainting and weary ones on the earth. This is a wonderful revelation. It tells us that the very power of Christ is given to us in our weakness, passed from His fullness into our emptiness.

One may stand by us in our trouble and may make us a little stronger by his sympathy and love, by his encouragement and cheer, but he cannot put any portion of his strength or joy into our heart. Christ, however, gives us strength, and imparts to us His own life. What the vine is to its branch, Christ is to us. If the branch is hurt in any way, bruised, broken, its life wasted, the vine pours of its life into the wounded part, to supply its loss and to heal it. That is what Christ does. He gives power to the faint. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The greater our need, the more of Christ’s grace will come to us. Therefore, there are blessings which we shall never get until we come into experiences of trial. We shall never know God’s comfort until we have sorrow. And as we learn what grief is, we shall learn also how God gives strength and consolation in grief.

How can we make sure of receiving this promised strength? The answer is: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”7 What is it to wait upon the Lord? It means to trust God patiently, to believe in God’s love, to accept God’s guidance, to keep near God’s heart, to live in unbroken fellowship with God, leaning upon His arm, drawing help from Him.

We are to go on with our work, with our struggle, with our doing and serving, being sure that, waiting upon God, we shall ever renew our strength. We are in living communication with Him who made the stars and calls them by their names, and holds all the universe in being, who faints not nor is weary. He is behind us all the while—all His fullness of life, all His important strength—and every emptying of life from us is instantly replenished, for He gives power to the faint.

Over all the unopened year, God casts His light. There can be no experience through the year for which there will not be strength. God never gives a duty, but He gives also the needed strength to do it. He never lays on us a burden, but He will sustain us under it. He never sends a sorrow, but He sends the comfort to meet it. He never calls to any service, but He provides for its performance. We need only to be sure that we wait upon God, and then all the strength we shall need will be given, as we go on, day by day.

  1. Published in 1913, adapted. Source: https://gracegems.org/Miller/strength_for_a_new_year.htm.
  2. John 14:1
  3. Isaiah 41:10
  4. Psalm 55:22
  5. John 14:27
  6. 2Corinthians 12:9
  7. Isaiah 40:31