A fresh start. That’s what I need. Or the undo button, so I can modify last year.
This is not an uncommon mantra for many of us at the closing of a year and the opening of a new one. Sometimes, we had a great year. Sometimes, we had a not-so-bad year. Oftentimes, we had a hard year infested with hurts and pains, failures and problems; we were sure we would never get through any of them.
But we did, and here we are at the launching pad of a new year. It brings with it hope and endless possibilities.
But how do we begin — the right way?
I believe the answer to that question is simple: Begin by being grateful to God.
Begin by being grateful to Him for the things that brought us happiness and smiles in the past year and for the love we experienced in Him. Begin by going back to how faithful God has been and how good He has been to us even for those times we didn’t clearly see His hands.
When we look back and see how pieces in our lives fell into a beautiful tapestry of grace, realize that God did all that and be thankful.
Begin by being grateful for the things that brought us tears. I know that sounds preposterous. To suggest to be thankful for pain seems like a bad move. But pain is a gift. It’s a gift nobody wants, yet we all need to be thankful for it.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Pain, as my husband once told me, lets us know something is wrong or that what we experienced was real. It unmasks us and helps us see the truth. It adds dimension to our lives and meaning to our pursuits. A person who has never gone through suffering will never fully appreciate God’s selfless act and sacrifice on the cross and the depth of His love.
What bought us our salvation cost Him dearly, and you can bet it was very painful. Yet because of that pain, we all have been given a new birth. Pain from love gave us what we so desperately need — Jesus.
And, begin by being grateful for what we have and what is ahead of us not letting our messes from the past year stop us from moving forward. Most of us want to do things differently than we did the past year. I know I do.
All these things that we wished we did or did better or more of from the last year occupies our minds and our hearts forgetting what is truly important: a life lived out in the reality of being God’s child. This means not being a slave to our defeats but being free in God to keep moving forward even when moving forward seems impossible. As Ann Voskamp said, “Be more grateful for what is — than you feel guilty over what isn’t. The moving forward always happens in this relief that all our guilt is covered by His grace.”
Ah, what precious gift we have in Jesus! His incomprehensible grace continues to clothe us with His righteousness and completely engulf us with His love.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)