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“Our notion of an optimist is a man who, knowing that each year was worse than the preceding, thinks next year will be better. And a pessimist is a man who knows the next year can’t be any worse than the last one.”  (Franklin Adams, 1944)


An end-of-the-year USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll reveals that 70% of people surveyed are dissatisfied with how things are going in America today. Only 49% predict 2015 will be better—the first time in a quarter center that optimism for the year ahead has fallen below 50%.


Though the stock market has shown positive signs and job numbers are growing, most Americans evidently have very low expectations that the new year will bring significant improvements to their lives. A stronger economy hasn’t helped everybody. Many people have quit looking for work, while others are underemployed. Governmental gridlock discourages many Americans; 77% predict that the stalemate will not improve over the next five years, while over a third expect it to get worse.


The bottom line, according to USA TODAY—“Our long national funk isn’t over.”  


Pessimists might react “If you think this year was bad, wait until next year; we haven’t seen anything yet!” Optimists may insist “There are some hopeful signs on the horizon; our country will turn around, just wait and see!” How will Christ followers respond?


In a time of rampant cynicism, will we still believe the future is as bright as the promises of God?


In a culture enamored with transitory material things, will we sing hymns out of an inner conviction of eternal realities?


In a society celebrating a holly-jolly-jingle-bell-rock-Rudolph-and-Frosty-and-shop-‘til-you-drop “Christmas”, will we give gifts to our loved ones while remembering that the greatest gift is our Savior?


In a nation focused on wish lists and getting what we want, will we align our lives by hope in anticipation of what God is going to do next?


In a world on the threshold of another year filled with potential problems, will we dare to live by faith in God, no matter what 2015 brings?


"Next Year in Jerusalem" is a statement of spiritual hope—that Jerusalem will be rebuilt spiritually, as the spiritual center of the world, with the Temple and the manifest Presence of God on earth, at its center. That’s a radical hope, derided by some as an impossible dream. However, the children of God keep dreaming and praying and hoping that the intractable problems plaguing us will be solved once and for all by the return and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Christmas carol by Cecil Frances Alexander expresses well our ultimate reason for eternal optimism—“And our eyes at last shall see him, Through his own redeeming love; For that child so dear and gentle Is our Lord in heaven above, And he leads his children on To the place where he is gone.”


As much as we love America, it is good for us to recall a timeless truth—“We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:20, 21 NLT)   


“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13 NLT)


A Christ-filled Christmas to you—and a Joyful, Peaceful, and Hopeful New Year!


Johnny R. Almond

Christian preacher and writer

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity


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