Lists and the New Year

As we end 2016, it’s appropriate to take time and look back over the year before jumping into the new one. No doubt you’ve heard this message in a variety of ways but especially in lists counting down the most popular songs, books, or news stories. Every year at this time there are lists of the best and worst of everything under the sun.

Have you taken time to record some lists about your life in 2016? List your accomplishments. List your griefs and grievances. List your joys and list your fears. Of course, what do we do with these lists if we make them? My advice to you? Pray them!

Why make and pray these lists? Because God has lists like this for you. I know it sounds scary, but it’s meant to be comforting. It is comforting in Psalm 56:8 to know that God keeps our tears in a bottle. David, who wrote the psalm, says to God of his tears and tossings, “Are they not in your book?” The assumed answer is: Yes! God has a record of what keeps you up at night.

It’s comforting to know that the God who made you doesn’t just set us off and running, but he keeps track of us. He counts our tears. He also counts our hairs (see Matthew 10:30). He has set our life’s span in place as well. That’s why Jesus said, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” (Matthew 6:27).

Why does God keep these lists? It seems He has more information on us than the FBI. Why does God set our life’s span in place? Again, it should be a comfort to us. Paul gives us the reason (cf. Acts 17:26-27). God has set down the horizon and boundaries of our lives so that we might seek him because in Him we live and move and have our being. Also, He is not far from us.

God has also set a day when He will judge the world according to the man he has appointed: Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31). This is our comfort. God has set an expiration date on evil, sadness, and even death! On the third day, Christ was raised from the dead to show us that God has the power to set such a date, so we know that there is a final date when all the dead will be raised and the world judged.

He who has numbered your hairs and who has a record of your tears is the One who has also removed the record of your wrongs by the death of His Son (Colossians 2:14). In Christ, your transgressions have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

In light of all this, we can make lists and pray these lists to God—the God who hears and acts. He teaches us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). I pray that as you look back over 2016 you will be comforted by the joys God has given you and that whatever tears you have cried—whether because of sin, sickness, or death—you will be comforted knowing that God has them on His list as He watches over you now and always.

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