Image by Andreas-photography via Flickr
For many people, there's a surge of hope during this season. A New Year is born, fresh with possibility, alive with optimism.
Before I knew the Lord, I was a bit confused by it all. Life hurt in the past, life hurts now, and life will hurt in the future. Who cares if the calendar changes? And besides that, my past efforts at self-reform always failed, so why would I put stock in any new resolutions?
Add to that my cynical (but accurate) view of the televised licentious reveling that I refused to watch, my awareness that those partiers really drowned their sorrows and doubts in alcohol rather than in true hope, and you can see why New Year's Day never meant much to me.
Isn't it amazing how one cynical and hopeless person can look down on others for even trying to find hope? Honestly, I think that's how I felt…like they were fools for trying at all, never mind that they were looking in all the wrong places.
I know, I must have been a real bummer, right? But I never had to sleep off a hangover the next morning, so I was ahead of the game in at least that one respect.
Fast forward to today, to New Year's seen through believing eyes.
New Year's Day still doesn't mean much to me, but for very different reasons.
His mercies are new every morning! (Lam 3:22-23)
Aren't you glad you don't have to wait 364 days for a new start when you blow it on January 2nd? Any day…in fact, any moment can mark a new beginning. Every time we repent of our sin and turn to the Lord, He makes us clean and gives us fresh resources.
Aren't you glad the hope is real, produced by the Spirit, and not by spirits?
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against New Year's Day, or the idea of celebrating it (in ways that honor the Lord). It's not my aim to throw a wet blanket over what the day represents. I do hope to elevate the possibilities of every other day in our estimation. Because the potential of every day rests not in the calendar, but in the Lord who holds our times in His hands (Ps 31:15), who knows every day of our lives in advance (Ps 139:16 HCSB), and who promises to give us the strength to meet those days' challenges (Deut 33:25b).
And I'm writing this because, frankly, I need the reminder. I'm not naturally an optimistic person.
I'll bet you had already guessed that.
I don't awaken every morning with a song of praise on my lips, or with excited plans for the day, or feeling renewed and "ready to go." My first morning feelings most days can best be summed up as "Oh no, I'm awake."
I gave up on New Years' Resolutions years ago, but maybe it's time to risk a new one. Maybe what I need to do is write "Happy New Day, Lam 3:22-23" on an index card on my nightstand, where I'll see it every morning. Maybe what I should do is resolve to put my trust in the Lord…not that each day will be intrinsically happy and trouble-free (I'd have to commit intellectual suicide to do that), but that each day is a new gift from God in which He promises to work all things, even my hardships, for my good. Maybe I should refuse to accept the morning "Ugh" that usually fills my soul, and should deliberately seek to accept the truth of God's good plan for me this day.
It will be very hard not to sneer at that index card and rip it off of the nightstand. Seriously. I am not at all certain it will last more than a few weeks at best.
Yes, I'm a believer, but my faith has some definite weak spots. Like mornings.
What do you think? Does anyone think I should risk it? Anyone want to issue me a dare?
Or would anyone like to join me in trying it? I might be more likely to try it if I knew I wasn't alone…