Certainties for 2023, Part 1

Futurists and prognosticators, social influencers and trend-setters are all making their predictions about the new year. From color palettes and wardrobes, to political battles and economic fortunes, there is no lack of “data” available as we surf the internet.

In these essays, I want to share some certainties about the year ahead that can inform our personal decisions and influence our communities. I am not claiming divine revelation, but I hope they reflect divine wisdom. I have considered biblical principles and historical insights, the inputs of women and men I trust, and observations of the human condition informed by reflection.

These certainties can change, if key players in particular dramas make foolish or wise decisions. While I trust the overarching providence of God, I also believe that humankind’s freewill introduces contingencies that alter the trajectory of both persons and nations. For example, a child with few prospects and raised in abuse and poverty is mentored by a caring woman or man and learns wise decision making. What was “inevitable” is now forever changed for the better.

Here are seven certainties as we enter 2023, and ideas for thoughtful responses:

First, many will keep defending their ideology-driven narratives, despite facts and information challenging their assertions. The public square will continue being a contentious place and many will engage in projection as they accuse opponents of “disinformation.” Thoughtful women and men must humbly investigate, reflect, and offer principled responses, regardless of the noise around them.

Second, economic uncertainty and opportunity will continue. We are in the midst of epoch- changing global and local upheavals, with the rise of the gig economy, a generation of frustrated college graduates, and changes in the types of jobs that pay sustainably. The “great resignation” is real – and many will have to re-enter the workforce with lower expectations. These harsh realities are offset with opportunities as our global and local economies continue supporting creativity and innovation. If we are people of character who know our charisms and are willing to gain new competencies, the future is challenging and encouraging.

A third certainly in our world will be the rise of histrionic and irrational antisemitism as protest groups go beyond critiques of Israeli policies (which are part of Israel’s own contentious public square) and morph into historical eliminationism and anti-Jewish screeds. “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” does not mean a peace settlement with states living in harmony. It means the destruction of Israel and extermination of Jews. Fortunately, Israel is a robust democracy, a “start-up nation” and a dynamic partner in energy and technology. She will weather these storms.

Next week, we will share four more certainties. For now, it is vital that we decide ahead of time to turn our hearts toward our Lord, keep our heads, and be slow to speak. Thoughtful persons take time to process reactions and consider responses.

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