. . . as unknown, yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. II Corinthians 6: 9--10
By the grace of God we now enter the two thousand and eleventh year of our Lord. Each year brings the transitions inevitable in His Kingdom which has, at its root, a process of intergenerational succession. And so it has been in the past year. Beloved and respected believers have died and departed to be with our Lord. Some of these have seemed to us to die full of life and years, with a long and fruitful career of faithful service to the King. Others have died tragically insofar as they died young. The tragedy lies not so much in death itself, which we know will, in the end, lose its sting. It lies rather in the Kingdom of our Lord not having the benefit of long years of faithful service on the part of those who died untimely deaths. But such tragedies call us to pray for others to be raised up in their place.
And so, over the past year, we have also seen and experienced many births, as the Lord has granted an abundance of children. These come forth into His Kingdom as servants of the Living God, baptized into the Name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Born to Christian parents, raised in Christian homes, they are surrounded and immersed in the means of grace from the time they take their first breath. They are conditioned to believe and obey. The Spirit of God uses these ordained conditions to convert them to turn away from sin and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ in a living faith.
Moreover, over the past year, others, not raised in Christian homes, have heard the Gospel preached, and have believed and been converted out of darkness to light. They who were once afar off, have now been brought near. And so, today, in the 2011th year of our Lord, the earth is more full of the glory of God than it was twelve months ago. We thus thank God for the wonderful year that has passed.
But we also look forward with great anticipation to the year to come. This, too, will be a year of the reign of our Lord. It, too, will see the extension of His Kingdom still further. More of His glory will fall upon the earth. This will not be a glory that the unbelieving world will see. For Unbelief is blind to what is plainly before its face. But the eyes of faith will see it--they will see what is really there.
This glory will come amidst pain and tears, toil and struggle, hardship and weary labours. For here lies part of the very glory of the Kingdom that the eyes of faith see: despite all these afflictions, there will also be joy, and hope, and laughter, and delight in the Lord and in one another and in what He is doing amongst us. We may be poor, but we know that we possess all things, and we are able to make many rich. The past, the present, and the future all belong to us. All of history belongs to us. For we belong to Christ and the whole earth is His. We may be sorrowful, but we will always be rejoicing, for how could we not have great joy at the ascension and session, at the position and primacy of our Lord.
We know that in this coming year of our Lord, He will shake the earth once again with wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes and storms, disease and calamity. This great shaking will be to enable to earth to be shed of that which can be shaken and removed, so that which cannot be shaken may remain. His Kingdom is what cannot be shaken. (Hebrews 12: 26--28) Even disasters and calamities serve to His glory and His Kingdom.
So, we look forward to the coming year. It is His time.