As we face a New Year
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away; (Eccles. 3:1,6)
We look back on the year 2022 with gratitude and look forward with hopeful anticipation. The Year 2022 has, for many of us, been a year which presented us with multiple experiences.
Losses of life
There have been losses of multiple kinds. These have been family members, members of the church family; relationships resulting in broken hearts, dented wills and bruised spirits. Income – of business and jobs, in some cases loss of jobs completely or closure of business or significantly reduced income.
There has also been the loss of faith leaving one indifferent and cynical; loss of opportunities to fulfill one’s purpose leaving persons frustrated and irritable. Some of these opportunities included educational, career advancement, relationship building and service in community or to others.
Other losses include health, such as reduced body function; removal of body parts, memory and general movements. There is also the loss of freedom to move or act as one would normally do, created by a pandemic like the one we are still experiencing.
Losses are not new to our lives. What is challenging is sometimes the suddenness, the level of unpreparedness and the inevitable pain of adjusting to life without what is lost.
As we look back on the year, notwithstanding the losses, there is a place for gratitude. You may protest by asking, how can I say thanks when so much has gone wrong? Yes, you can, because life is more than its losses. I was at a family event recently and it was heartening to hear a family member speak of his losses/setbacks in business and also health challenges and how God bolstered him during that period. He had nothing but gratitude to God for how he was sustained.
Lessons from losses
When we contemplate the losses, we must also pause to look at the lessons gained from the experiences.
- We learn that a perfect life was never promised to us, so these will pop up along the journey of life.
- Secondly, we must be prepared for the inevitable and the possible so that the impact will not be devastating. Losses have greater impact when we are not prepared spiritually or emotionally.
- Thirdly, we must determine what is valuable and important and prioritize. When we do so, the regrets will be less.
No one should expect to reap what they did not sow. The opposite is also true, that it is what you sow that you will reap. Why do you expect people to find you when you are in distress when you never remember them when things were going well?
Allow me a final observation, as we look ahead to 2023, do bear the following in mind:
- God is still in control. He was God of the year behind us and He is God of the year ahead of us. God is the stable factor in all the changes we experience, therefore we should remain firmly anchored to Him.
- Apply the lessons you learn daily to your life and do not allow them to be forgotten. That is why Paul and James talk about, “practice hospitality”. Let the lesson become a way of life. What have you learned that you will keep on practicing?
- Remember, growth is a choice for each of us. As in the parable of the seeds and Sower, you can allow your life to be one of the soil types. Will it be well trodden, absorbing nothing? Rocky with little soil to support germination? thorny, choking whatever grows? or fertile, always producing and facilitating growth. The choice is yours. What will it be?
What would need to happen in 2023 for it to be a purposeful, joyful year for you? How will you cooperate with God to make this happen? “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”. John Maxwell. My prayer for you is that you have a grateful, hopeful, growth filled 2023.