As we celebrated the New Year at Maidan (Independence Square) in Kiev with thousands of jubilant people I thought if the euphoric hope for a better year could be bottled and sold on grim days it would significantly boost the economy. But wishes and good cheer do not lead to improvement. After the countdown to the new year, the clock keeps on ticking and we find ourselves going somewhere in life – good or bad. We can’t stand there forever in the glow of fireworks and falling snow. We can’t wish our difficulties away, wave a magic wand, and wake up different. It is wise to evaluate where we are in our relationships, finances, and goals and set our compass for the best destination. But how?
Trust in God and His faithfulness
I met a university student for coffee a few days ago. She said she and her boyfriend had been talking about how our family always seems happy. “You must have difficulties, too,” she said. “What is your secret?” I said we definitely go through difficulties, but we have joy which doesn’t depend on our circumstances because we trust in God. But this kind of trust means to rely on God and place everything in His hands because of who He is. This trust grows when we see His faithfulness over the years.
You can’t just say you trust God, you must live it through your priorities and actions. When we go our own way in disregard of God and His goodness, we shouldn’t be surprised when we get in trouble. The word “obey” causes the modern man to bristle, but if we have settled the idea that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb 11:6), we can see the wisdom of obedience. Troubles sometimes happen when we do obey God, but we enjoy His pleasure and nearness in the midst of them.
Cultivate Faith, not Fatalism
People have excuses for not trying: things didn’t work out before, they have special circumstances, you don’t understand how bad things are in their nation, etc. But we don’t get anywhere worth going without faith. Even small faith in a great God who can do beyond what we can imagine is transformative. We have to cultivate faith and protect it or we could end up in a malignant holding pattern of doubt and bitterness when things don’t go according to our expectations. When we struggle and encounter evil and great obstacles, we can still overcome by His power working in and through us. The Gospel is true. Resignation doesn’t get us up in the morning, but seeing the goodness of God’s hand working that day and through whatever challenge we may be facing does.
How do you feel when you spend time with someone who has an infectious, joyful faith? Encouraged? Energized? You can be sure they have habits which keep their faith strong. You can develop those habits.
Let’s set our hearts toward God and expect Him to do great things this year.
“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.”