Often the coming of the new year evokes memories of the one that's ending. People assess the past twelve months to judge how well things have gone and how much progress they've made. Resolutions are customary for the new year. They indicate that people want to do better in any number of ways. We want to improve on shortcomings. Yet, sometimes regrets and haunting memories just won't allow us the freedom to go forward in our lives, and we want to find peace.
The Biblical Preacher who wrote Ecclesiastes said something hopeful: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him" (3:14). There's hope for us at any time in finding out what God does. God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is solely good. God has been powerful and present all the time. Nothing has been "put to" or "taken from" what He has caused to be. What else does that leave? To learn more of who God is and what He does is to find and know the truth. Christ Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). The freedom for you to find good in the past and present is real, and lies in an understanding of God.
Jesus showed again and again that understanding God brings good. You won't ever find failure or despair connected with what Jesus said or did. You'll find words of truth, based on an unparalleled knowledge of who God is and what He does. The truth of Jesus' words bore fruit in healing, peacemaking, and redemption. It still does.
The yearning to know the truth of the Holy Scripture and to do the same good works that Jesus did is what led a woman named Mary Baker Eddy to discover that timeless laws of God, of good, lay behind those works. Christian Science is the name Mrs. Eddy gave to her discovery of God's laws of healing. It shows how to find the freedom we seek.
The Preacher continued, "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past" (3:15). Some people would say that means God requires whatever has come, be it good or bad, health or sickness. But how could God be completely good and at the same time require evil? God hasn't empowered or required the smallest pain or regret. As Christian Science has shown many people, He delivers us from evil by destroying our faith or belief in it. The most disturbing of memories and the ugliest of character flaws have been resolved and healed through knowing that God alone has always been our source.
Someone once told me that the good we each have (because we are created as the reflection of the one good God) is like a book that was written, printed, and bound. Problems and shortcomings are like sheets of paper added afterward. Just as those extra sheets of paper, carefully trimmed and inserted, would look just as if they were part of the book, so regret and failure can seem part of our lives. But what isn't from God has never been part of us, any more than added paper could become part of a book already bound.
Take a look at the Apostle Paul. His efforts to share Christianity were astounding. But at first Paul was the perpetrator of acts that were more than a little awful. He actively persecuted Christians and even had them killed. It was after a humbling and life-transforming experience, in which Paul confronted what he'd done, that he became what you could call Christianity's most active supporter. He established the teachings of Jesus throughout the known world. He became a healer.
I don't know if Paul looked back on his past, but I suppose he could have been tempted to think, "Gee, what's the use? I've made so many mistakes! I'll look like such a hypocrite." Instead, the Bible says, ". . . straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). Our shortcomings might be far less dramatic than Paul's were, but our way of dealing with them can be just as effective as his.
Mrs. Eddy wrote something in a book called Unity of Good. It has a great message to take into the new year: "All that is beautiful and good in your individual consciousness is permanent. That which is not so is illusive and fading" (p. 8). The truth of God causes this to be so.