"God has put a sense of past and future into our minds, yet we cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11
I've been hearing this a lot: "What an awful year—2016 can't end fast enough!" Considering its horrors, tunnel-visioned to us live by CNN and Fox, that feels right.
Still, Ecclesiastes cautions us against damning 2016 to hell. It knows we aren't the best judges of our times, for no finite human "can find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."
In 2016, the death penalty became illegal in more than half the world's countries. In 2016, Ontario invested $100 million to curb violence against indigenous women. In 2016, citizens of Mumbai conducted the largest beach cleanup in history, 4,000 tons of rubbish gone. In 2016, black incarceration rates in the US went down—not far enough, no, but still down. In 2016, Denmark became the first country to stop defining being transgender as a mental illness. In 2016, crowdfunding raised a million dollars for the kids of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to go to college. In 2016, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels did not grow at all. In 2016, the number of East Asians living in extreme poverty dropped to under 4%. In 2016, wild salmon spawned in the Connecticut River for the first time since the American Revolution. And in 2016, you tried the very best you could not to be ashamed of the gospel.
So at midnight tonight, don't tell 2016 to go to hell. Ask instead for more of its grace; for God is still speaking, still working, still loving the world from the beginning to the end.
Praise to you, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end: in all things, God for us, now and forever. Amen.
*See more good news here.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.