The new year comes bearing gifts.
For some, it is the gift of relief–relief that the last year is over. For others, a new year brings hope–hope for the future and for a better year than the last. A new year can also bring anticipation for what’s ahead. We make plans, set goals, and look forward to their completion.
Sometimes though, like the tacky scarf we never wanted, the new year brings gifts that aren’t desired. Fear. Uncertainty. Dread. Even just the thought of the unknown future can bring worry or paralyzing fear.
When it comes to expectations and the plans we make for the new year, we tend to plan for and look forward to good things. We anticipate fun activities, new experiences and increased blessings. We set goals to attain things and experiences we’ve long desired. We resolve to make things better and improve ourselves.
When I consider my thoughts about this new year, part of me accepts the gift of sweet anticipation and looks forward to the experiences that lie ahead. Yet another part of me trembles a bit with fear at the unknown.
But what if this year I embraced all that the new year brings? What if I looked forward to everything God wants to do in and through me in 2013?
And what if the story He’s written for me this year involves more challenge, increased pain, losses, and trials?
What if it means broken dreams or failures?
Can I anticipate with great hope what God will do this year in my life? Do I have the faith to trust that whatever He has in store will result in my good? Or does fear of the unknown keep me frozen in place, unable to take a step forward?
These questions percolate in my mind reminding me that the Christian life is a journey on the road less taken. This road is narrow and less traveled because of the pain and suffering that often accompanies the journey. Not many want to walk through the necessary trials found there. Jesus challenged those who follow Him to “count the cost,” because following Him requires sacrifice.
James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (1:2) As I look ahead into 2013, anticipating what God has planned for me, I need to face that future with joy. The source of this joy comes from the knowledge that Jesus already paved the way on this path when He suffered and died for my sins. He’s freed me of the greatest fear I could ever face, eternity without Him. No matter the uncertainty that lies ahead, He promises to be with me. As a forgiven and accepted child of the Father, I am promised peace in the face of anxiety, strength in the face of suffering, and grace for all my fears.
While this year may involve new adventures and fun with my family, it may involve new opportunities and experiences, but it may also include challenges and trials. Regardless what the future holds, it is all a blessing from God. He only gives that which is good for us because “the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3,4)
May we all face this new year, accepting the gifts it brings with hope and joy rather than fear and despair. May we never cease to drink from that fountain which is Christ, our source of all hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
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