The promises of a new year

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Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

As we look back on 2017 many of us will remember it for being one of the wettest in history.

Silage fields remain uncut, harvests lost and winter fodder becoming scarcer as we enter spring. Yes, last year was certainly one of the toughest in recent memory in terms of weather, but as I talk to farmers throughout the countryside, prices have been a provision through a tough year.

In the opening chapters of the book of Joshua, we read how the Israelites entered the Promised Land. What we can gather from this story is that we have nothing to fear if we trust God, “Here is what I am commanding you to do. Be strong and brave. Do not be terrified. Do not lose hope. I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go” (Joshua 1:9).

God keeps his promises

As many farmers look out at their land this winter, signs remain of a difficult year, whether it be marked fields or silage still out. In Joshua 3:13-17 God enabled the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. In order to they had to trust God to take the first step. Yet God in His power backed up the river so the people could cross to dry land. Twelve stones (Joshua 4:9) remained in the river as a reminder to the people of the power of God.

God provides

Although the challenges that were faced last year may still have an impact on this year, we can take light from this story of the promises of God. With an uncertain spring, many are faced with stretched fodder levels, yet just as God provided for the Israelites He can provide for us too. The Israelites spent 40 years wandering unnecessarily in the wilderness because they were terrified of the Canaanites - they underestimated God’s ability. Yet we can never underestimate God, in His power He caused the great opposition of the Canaanites to melt away.

We can rest assured that even in the most challenging of years, God provides. As we enter into a new year we can trust Him, for He will provide for us this year. Yes, we leave behind a difficult 2017, yet good prices have provided solace for many, particularly for those having to buy in additional feed. Though we don’t know what we will face in 2018, if we put our trust in God, like the Israelites, He will provide for us and fulfil His promises - even in the most difficult of times.

Knowing that God keeps His promises and that He provides, Paul writes: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

At the beginning of a new year, we can remember God’s greatest promise, that He would provide His son Jesus to save that which was lost.

As Paul wrote: “That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).

As we embark on another year, the greatest promise we can trust God for is that He has provided a Saviour, who is Jesus Christ.

Richard Gibson is a recent agriculture graduate from Queen’s and has spent many years working on various types of farms. Richard currently works with dairy farmers on a daily basis as a farm liaison officer with one of Ireland’s leading agri-food co-operatives. He lives in Beragh in County Tyrone.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.