Everyone knows it – on a global scale, 2016 was a trying year.
At the personal level: same. I left my job of over five years, began the process of adopting children, helped my wife manage a growing small business, and started a new ministry.
And really, that’s just the visible stuff. Leaving jobs and starting new things comes with a slew of confusing emotions that leaves me feeling like I just walked through a car wash. At the end, just after I’ve been blasted with giant blow-dryers and the garage door opens, someone greets me and asks, “What’s your life plan?”
“Could I have until the New Year to answer that question?”
Actually, New Year’s is my favorite holiday. It’s a breath of fresh air, a reason to commit to growth.
The day became meaningful when I stopped making vague resolutions like “be healthier” and started committing to specific goals, like “blog 50 weeks out of the year.”
With 2016 behind us, how will we enter into this gift of a new year?
I like this verse from the Psalms:
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4, ESV)
The verse reminds me of of the homeless people I know. When I ask homeless men and women, “How are you today?” they almost always say, “I’m thankful I woke up this morning.”
What they mean is, “My life is a total wreck every day. I can’t stop drinking/doing drugs. I wandered the streets all day begging people for spare change. Hardly anyone looks me in the eyes or acknowledges my humanity. And I slept in a cold, abandoned house, praying that no one robs me while I sleep. All I can say is that I’m thankful God gave me a gift I don’t deserve – the gift of another day. ”
2017 is a gift no one deserves. Let’s enter it with thanksgiving.
What does that look like?
Take a moment, alone or with people you love, and verbally give thanks.
God, I’m thankful that you’ve given my wife the strength and poise to run an excellent business that brings healing to hundreds of people.
I’m thankful for the friends and mentors who have supported me emotionally, spiritually, and financially as I’ve walked through a job transition.
And I’m thankful for your grace. It sustains me in my darkest moments and brings me joy and hope when I really just want to complain about everything.
After a hard year, the future seems foggy. And maybe we don’t want the fog to lift, because we might not like what we see – more crazy politics, more vulnerable refugees, more personal hardship.
Or maybe, even in the most difficult years, God will continue to be faithful.
And this time next year, we’ll have a brand new list of reasons to be thankful.
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, ESV)