As we stand on the threshold of another year one thing is for sure—we cannot be sure what another year will bring. For example, while doing some research I wondered about the things people faced 100-years ago as they looked forward to a new year in 1919. Here’s what I found:
In 1919 the world was ready for peace and quiet. The “War to End All Wars” (WWI) finally ended on Nov. 11, 1918, after 16 million people lost their lives in conflict. The world was also recovering from a devastating influenza pandemic that affected about 500 million people, or one-third of the global population at the time.
On January 15, a large storage container burst at the Purity Distilling Company in Boston, sending a tidal wave of molten molasses through the streets at 35 miles per hour, killing 21 people and injuring 150. On January 16, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, prohibiting the sale of alcohol. Thus, the days of prohibition had begun.
In June another amendment passed, giving women the right to vote. Also that month, the Grand Canyon became a national park and the first trans-Atlantic air travel occurred when Jon Alcock and Arthur Brown flew from Newfoundland to Ireland. In September, the Florida Keys hurricane slammed the islands and killed more than 600. The next month president Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke, but the First Lady hid the news and began running the country herself. And in the sports world, the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series in one of the greatest scandals in baseball history.
Amid all the trials and triumphs of 1919, a lot of notable people passed away and important babies were born. Among the obituaries were Theodore Roosevelt, who died in his sleep at age 60 on Jan. 6, 1919, and wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who passed at 83 leaving behind his vast empire. That year some world-changers were born too including—Nat King Cole, Jackie Robinson and Edmund Hillary.
As I studied those headlines from a century ago, I was reminded of the old saying, “All new news is old news happening to new people.” Aren’t our times filled with some of the same stuff? Disasters, war and peace, sickness and death, scandal and technological innovation.
Like those folks in 1919, we don’t know what 2019 holds, but we do know the One who holds time in His hands. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart are to all generations.” Even though the calendar changes our Lord changes not (Mal. 3:6) and “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
We ought to take comfort in the unchanging nature of God (called by theologians “God’s immutability”). When you have some time, look up these verses and note the following truths—God’s promises are unchanging (Num. 23:19), God’s purposes are unchanging (Pro. 19:21), God’s provisions are unchanging (James 1:17) and God’s prophecies are unchanging (Acts 1:11).
In a world full of change, where it seems like the ground beneath our feet is quicksand, I’m glad I can anchor my faith in a God of consistency. God cannot change for the better, because He’s already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.
Maybe, A.W. Tozer said it best, “What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself . . . Today at this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind. His attitude toward sin is now the same as it was when He drove Adam and Eve from the Garden and His attitude towards the sinner the same as when He stretched forth His hands on the Cross and cried, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” -DM