Happy New Year!

This greeting always gets me thinking!

Of course, I use it as often as anyone else. And I mean it when I say it. It is said to me and by me with sincerity.

BUT I do wonder what people are wishing for me.

Happy celebration? Happy January 1st? Happy 2024? Really….happiness all year?

I also ask myself, does ‘happy’ express God’s heart and best for people?

In 2024, Amber, who works for Barry, will continue to be so very concerned about the health of her son. In everything that she and her family face, our God is right in the thick of it.  

When people wished me a ‘Happy New Year’ in 2007, they absolutely meant it and could never have imagined that by that autumn I would be facing surgery for Stage 3 bowel cancer at the age of 48.  Was the Lord in this? I wrestled at the time, but now say with certainty: of course, He was!

What are we to seek, what do we need, what does God want us to grow in to, whatever our current or ultimate 2024 circumstances? Is it happiness? Or is it … Shalom?

The Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace (and more) is fascinating! Peace is not the absence of war or trouble; it is way more positive than that. It is about wholeness, welfare, fullness, prospering and completeness and it is possible even when there is trouble on every side. Possible for you in 2024!

When God reveals Himself as Yahweh-shalom to Gideon (Judges 6: 22-24), there is no guarantee that there will be no trouble if we are with Him. Far from it! But the guarantee is that even when there is conflict or pain, Yahweh will be our peace, our wholeness and completeness. You will have noticed, I am sure, that we are not removed from trouble; but He can give us the peace to overcome it. Peace can be in our centre even in the battles, and it all comes from our God who is named ‘Yahweh-is-peace’.

So, in 2024, thank Him for being your peace, thank Him for His care over your every situation. Thank Him that He has never been threatened or wrong-footed or confused! He is all we need, and He promises to sustain us; to never leave us or forsake us!

Shalom to you reading this!

Shalom speaks of prospering in every good purpose God has for us. You may not like reading this, but we often grow and prosper in times that are not so ‘happy’.

But this I know: He loves us and wants the best for us, so may you have a prosperous 2024, prospering by and in His Spirit!


Julie Evans is a former teacher, who now works as a volunteer in HMP New Hall in Wakefield. Julie is also one of our Operations Assistants.