If I had to take a guess, New Year’s would not have been the Teacher’s favorite holiday:
All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?
It has been already in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be among those who come after.
Everything comes around just as it has before. Nothing is new and nothing really changes. Rivers continue in their Sisyphean attempt to fill up the sea; similarly, we work and toil but nothing ever gets done. There is “nothing new under the sun,” and if you are ever surprised, it is because you are young, blind, or a fool.
I’ll be honest, I get the same feeling whenever I reflect on New Year’s resolutions. People concoct them every year but it seems that “there is no remembrance of former things.” We fail to recall last year’s resolutions, largely the same ones, that have been left by the wayside, usually long before the red shadow of Valentine’s Day ever hits. Ironically enough, even pessimism about New Year’s resolutions is not new.
Yet for some reason we still make them every year. We get up, dust the cookie crumbs off our sweaters, and resolve to eat healthier. We dust off our Bibles and promise ourselves we’ll make it past Leviticus. We start looking at our schedule and determine that this year our time will not be wasted in front of the screen again.
Why? When we’ve fallen off the wagon so many times there’s a familiar bump in the road with our name on it, why is it that we continue to clamber back on again? Whence comes this deep compulsion to imagine that the future is a future, and not merely a repetition of the past?
You can read the rest of my meditation on God, the Lord of history, and the expectation of faith at Christ and Pop Culture.