I like to read through the Bible every year and in doing so read a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament and one from Psalms or Proverbs each day. I follow the Bible In One Year plan and this looks at Old Testament passages chronologically rather than in the order they appear in the Bible, and because of this, I have ended the year reading from Nehemiah. With Christmas carols still reverberating in my mind, I read this verse today: ‘Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.’ (Neh 13:2)

The incident Nehemiah is referring to is found in Numbers 22-24, a passage about Balak and the prophet Balaam, whom Balak hired to curse Israel and who ended up blessing them. In the midst of these prophecies we find one pointing ahead to Jesus (Num 24:17); the whole incident – including the story about Balaam’s donkey whose spiritual perception was greater than his master’s! – reminds us that God is able to take all our obstructiveness, sinfulness and sheer stubbornness and still get HIs own way! Nehemiah’s words have far greater meaning than just this one incident. All throughout history God has been turning the curse into a blessing. As we end 2019 and enter into a new year and a new decade, we can be confident He will continue to do this. (Rom 8:28)

The popular carol ‘Joy To The World’ contains a verse that is not always sung (but should be!) In this verse, we sing, ‘He comes to make his blessings flow/ Far as the curse is found.’ Jesus came into the world to make God’s blessings available to each one of us. Though our world is cursed from Adam’s first sin, God is able to turn the curse into a blessing. We can face whatever the enemy throws at us secure in the knowledge that our God turns curses into blessings and brings good from evil. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.