A new year can bring hope, dreams and vision for the future. It represents something fresh, something different, a change you want to make in your life, or something you want to be different in your environment.
This particular new year is one of extraordinary anticipation. One filled with expectation and a yearning for resolution. A deep desire for unwanted experiences to end and a turning of a new leaf to usher in change.
However, I’ve often thought it odd that we put so much pressure on a single day. As if a simple change of calendar will also change our circumstances. It is we who decide our attitude, our actions, and our efforts. We all deal with disappointment, failure, and fear in various forms throughout our lives, and even throughout our day. It is how we respond and react to these common distractions that guide our experiences.
When I am feeling down and overwhelmed by my life, I find looking to the Bible rather than a calendar will lift my spirits. Two books specifically bring me comfort during these times by aligning my heart to things that truly matter. They are Lamentations, and Job. Seems crazy to find hope in such heavy books, but they offer amazing messages. Let me tell you more.
Lamentations is a book describing a Godly person’s remorse over their (and their people’s) own actions and where they are now due to these choices. Chapter 3 verses 22-24 are a classic reminder to those of us who blame ourselves for our circumstances:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
If you read the rest of the book, you’ll find multiple descriptions of the desolate place the author finds themselves. They are aware of God’s love and the countless times they’ve turned their back on God’s open arms. Instead of assigning blame to family, work, country, political leaders, culture or anything else, the author accepts responsibility for their actions and praises the Lord that he keeps no record of wrong doings. Instead, “his mercies begin afresh each morning.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, it matters what I do with today.
As 2021 hovers before us, instead of focusing on our negative habits and how we want to change them, I challenge each of us to focus on the positive and how we can bring more of it into our lives and the lives of those around us. It might not seem that different to you, but starting from a positive place, allows the self-condemnation of starting from a negative place to never take root in our fresh new day.
On the other end of the spectrum, we find Job. In this book, we hear of a man that is righteous before the Lord and is still struck down with every awful thing imaginable: loss of home, business, family, wealth, children, and even his personal health. He has every reason to be upset with his circumstance as it is explained he caused none of it! After his wife’s misguided attempt to show compassion towards him by suggesting he curse God and end his suffering, Job responds with wisdom and grace:
Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?
I find this remarkable. To have the humility to grasp God’s infinite wisdom and understand his plan goes beyond his own mere happiness is something I contemplate daily. This last year has brought many circumstances to us all which we had no influence on or ability to change. We have only been able to react and respond. Just as God’s mercies for us are new each day so is our reservoir of faith, hope, and love. If this proves to be too challenging for you, I suggest allowing the serenity prayer to become something more than a cliche. I prefer the original order to the prayer, asking for courage first: “Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.” After all, having faith in what we do not see, having hope in the midst of despair, and loving in all circumstances takes courage. Courage I believe each of us can have.
So as we come to the end of 2020, and look forward to what 2021 will bring, I offer that we get to decide what this will be. Will our lamentations simply end with despair or will we recognize where hope comes from and seek out God’s best for us? Will our circumstances dictate our mood, or will we acknowledge God’s sovereignty and praise him for including us in his plan? Instead of thinking about new years resolutions, let's think about daily resolutions and living on purpose. Let’s all resolve to bring more love, grace, hope, faith, and truth into this world. Together, we can make our world a better place by making our outlook a more positive perspective.