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The Smile of a Child
read in Macedonian


A few weeks ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was asked about the so-called Mayan prophecy of the world ending on December 21.  He said “The world is not going to end,”  before adding, somewhat disconcertingly, “as least not this year.”

And so it did not.  But the Prime Minister is right, in a way, on this one point: this world will end at some point.  Those of us who are Christians believe that the present earth will be destroyed and “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) will come into being.  But all of that is after Armageddon and many other events which must take place.  Whether that is in the next twenty years or the next 1,000 years we don’t know (but if I was a betting man – and I am – I would bet within the next 20).

Beyond the fact that the earth will most likely continue spinning on its axis in 2013, many today are looking at 2013 and worrying by focusing on the “13” in that number, “13” being considered unlucky in many cultures.  But as I mentioned in my interview with Porta the other night when asked to comment on Bruce Jackson’s statement that “with a little luck” Macedonia will get into NATO in 2014, I stated the obvious: there is no such thing as luck, good or bad.  There is hard work and reality.

One reality is this: the year 2013 represents a phenomenon that many frequently forget: Time has been split in two and all of it dates back to the birth of one man, a man who was 100% human and 100% God, Jesus of Nazareth.  I’ll save the Christmas story and its implications for next week’s column but the fact that we are celebrating 2013 is due to the fact that this one man literally split time in two.  Even our atheist friends tacitly acknowledge that fact as they use the same calendar.  Think of all the great and powerful kingdoms, empires, nations and people who have ever ruled this planet.  None of them have had the impact that Jesus of Nazareth has had. (And a quick message to our atheist friends: I really believe it takes more faith for you to believe that all of this around us was created out to nothing than for me to believe in God the creator who created all of this out of nothing).

And yet.  The New Year soon beginning will bring what every year brings: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, terrorism, and one thousand and one other bad things.  Too often, in our too-busy world, we focus on what we perceive to be the bad things going on around us: a bad economy, political corruption, personal finances, fill in the blank here and name your own problem….and when we do, we allow our lives to be governed, oftentimes, by things beyond our control.  And when we allow that to happen, we lead unhappy lives often making those around us unhappy as well because of our bad attitude.

What we need to do is to take a moment, step back, and focus on what is really important.  Too often, when things become common, especially simple things, we forget their importance. And yet it is the important things in life that make life worth living, that make life meaningful, that give us the strength to get up each morning and face the day.  These are the things that continue to give us hope.

So, at the end of 2012, and as we enter 2013 not knowing what is ahead, what hope have we?  For those of us who identify as Christians, we have our hope in things yet to come, namely eternity with Christ in Heaven.  But even in the here and the now, we are not left alone.  We have plenty to give us hope no matter what goes on around us and no matter how bad things seem to get:

The warmth of a family.  The joy of a spouse.  Holding your son or daughter. The smile of a child.  The love of a parent. The wisdom of grandparents, uncles, and aunts. The friendship of a cousin. The stability of a good friend.  The security of a home.  The warmth of good winter clothes.  The taste of a home-cooked meal by someone you love.  The refreshing nature of a cool drink of water and yes, the sweet taste of wine and beer.  The ability to see, smell, taste, feel, touch, hear.  The ability to do good for others.  The ability to say to someone “I love you, not because of anything you do for me, but simply because of who you are.”

As we enter 2013, let me challenge you: when you have a moment, sit down with the people you love, family and friends, and tell each other what you are thankful for and what, in this world, gives you hope.  Dwell on these things in 2013 and no matter what happens, you will enjoy this life, you will be blessed and you will be a blessing to those around you.  I promise. 

Happy New Year Macedonia!

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Jason Miko
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