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The beginning of a New Year, in many ways, signifies a great renewal and rebirth. It’s a good time to try and let go of the negative things in your life, and look towards the future and better times.

So many people are struggling. And just because we can’t always see it, doesn’t mean that there aren’t those around us who suffer in silence.

It’s far too easy to be swallowed up by despair. To feel like we’re alone. Or that no one cares. But Jesus promises that we are never alone.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

~ Deuteronomy 31:6

The Lord also promises that He’ll never give us more than we can bear.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

And He said that while He didn’t come to take us out of this miserable world, He would protect us from the evil one — falsehood and hatred, the Devil.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

~ John 17:15

A copy of “Footprints in the Sand” used to hang in my grandma’s old cabin where she would spend a good deal of time during summers when I was a child. I remember sitting and reading that poem hundreds of times. So many times, in fact, that I have it memorized. Whenever the strain of Life starts to make me feel trapped, or the whispering lies of the devil float into my range of hearing, I think on this poem.

How many times have you gone through a terrible experience and felt utterly alone? How many times have you cried out, “Lord, where are you!?”

Because of this poem, I have long made a point of NEVER asking that question. Because I know that my Lord is always there. In the good times, but especially in the bad too. And when I reflect on this poem, what I DO say is this:

“If the situation/circumstance was THIS bad, and the Lord was carrying me through it, then how much worse would it have been; how unbearable and impossible would it have been, if I had truly been alone? I never would have survived.”

And when you start thinking back on your life and viewing the hard times with this attitude, your whole perspective on life will change completely.

“During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Lord, may we always be mindful of your helping hand, and your unwavering desire to save us from ourselves.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.

~ Proverbs 18:24

Note: Today’s paintings are: Chris Hopkins’s “The Embrace”, 2008; Harry Anderson’s “Jesus Heals the Leper”; Carlo Crivelli’s “Saint George Slaying the Dragon”, 1470; and James Tissot’s “The Good Shepherd”, 1886-94.