New years are filled with possibility. Many opportunities are likely to come along for us to better our health, deepen our faith, increase our service. The thing is, these opportunities arrive in ways that sometimes make them hard to recognize as such. Things happen that sadden, concern, and challenge us - right along with those things that gladden our hearts, lift our thinking, and sweeten our spirits. This is life, as the saying goes.
The question, I suppose, that comes is this: "How are we going to respond?" There are many options there, as well. Happy circumstances - the birth of a new grandchild, a raise at work, taking a much-needed vacation - are worth their weight in gold when it comes to easing the stresses of everyday life (including those less-than-everyday things like a sudden illness, the death of someone dear, or a loss of income). Life is stressful - or at least it can be. We all experience such things and the emotions that often come with them. That is to be expected; God gave us emotions to help us express ourselves - and to "clue us in" on what's happening around us. However, emotions fade...and we cope as best we can.
As Christians, we have the grace of faith, for a strong belief in a loving God is sustaining when troubles come. We can turn to God in prayer, reach for scripture, or call out to a fellow believer to help uphold us when we most need it - in those moments when we recognize our frailty as human beings. Created by God, a little less than the angels, recognizing our frailty can also lead us once more to that deep realization of just how much we need God - and of just how close he is. In Psalm 34: 18, we are reminded that: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. How wonderful is that? God's grace and everlasting love is ever near. Unlike a night watchman, God has his eye on us all day long - every day.
When we practice recognizing God's presence, more fruit of the Spirit seems to come our way, and we start focusing more on JOY than on happiness, for joy does not rely on circumstance; it is with us, even when we're not feeling it. We start being better able to access PEACE, for peace is something that abides, sometimes when we might not expect it to; as we are reminded in Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It can indeed be a very Happy New Year - and one filled with blessings of hope and grace. It is our prayer that it will be so for you!