Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14)
In ancient Rome it was believed that Janus, their god of beginnings, had the ability to see in two different directions simultaneously — he looked at the past and he looked ahead to the future. His name was given to the first month of the year.
As one year departs forever and a new, unknown year is here, the thoughtful person remembers and meditates on days past and ponders the future.
It seems there are two opposite suggestions in Scripture. Paul reminds us to forget those things that are behind and to reach out to those things that are before us (see Philippians 3:13). However, God commanded Moses to remember all the ways in which He had led him and the children of Israel (see Exodus 13:1-3 and Deuteronomy 5:15).
Is not God saying to remember the good and forget the bad, except as it can be a deterrent for future mistakes? We can be so immersed in guilt over our failures as to forget that God can still forgive and use us. Confess and forget that bad stretch and "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). Athletes work through slumps and come out stronger.
In remembering God's marvelous guidance, our faith is fortified to face a nebulous unknown. If He could bring us through last year, can we not trust Him for this year? "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12).
—From a January 1985 newsletter written by Dr. J. Vernon McGee