It's January. Christmas is over. New Year's Eve has passed. And the holiday shopping, wrapping, eating, visiting, and celebrating has come to an end. You're tired, or sad, or feeling a bit gloomy these days.
Maybe it's because the holiday season wasn't what you thought it would be—for whatever reason. You're still reeling from a hurtful comment from a friend or recovering from a sugar hangover from too many sweets. Or, maybe you were blessed to spend happy times with family and friends over Christmas and now you’re sad to leave or see them go.
Then there's the fact that, in most parts of the country, January is cold, gray, and dark most of the time. And that doesn’t help your mood.
Here are three essential things I've found helpful to beat the mid-winter blues and start the New Year on a solid footing. I think it helps immensely to get a new vision for your life, ask God to empower you, and then get inspired with words of hope from the true source of hope: God's Word.
Get a new vision for your life. One of the best things about a new year is that you get to start over. On New Year's Eve, I love watching the gigantic glittering ball drop in New York's Times Square on TV. Goodbye old year, hello new one! To me, December 31 is like a period at the end of a very long sentence; it’s closure on the year gone by.
And, in a single instance, a new year begins. Boom! I have a fresh start. A new beginning.
With hope and joy, I anticipate all that God may have for me in the 365 days ahead. I think about what I want to change in my life and how I want things to be different—and better—one year from now.
Instead of resolutions, I make intentional prayers and ask God to bless my health and finances, my career and my community (family, friends and others). I ask him for the awesome man of God he has for me to marry and do life with together. I ask God for wisdom in how I can serve and bless others, and have courage and joy no matter what may come. I give Him praise and thank God for all He has done and for who He is—loving, wise, powerful and good. And so much more.
What about you? What do you want to change in your life in the next year? How do you want this year to be different? Ask God to show you what He has for you so you can look forward with greater hope.
Ask God to empower you. A lot of people make New Year's resolutions and then bail on them a few weeks, or days, later. I don’t make resolutions. Why? Because in our own human strength (or should I say in our own human weakness), we can't keep the promises we make. Sure, we may have good intentions. We want to do the right thing or make changes in our lives, but self control doesn't come easy. So we give up, get bored and get a pizza. Instead, I pray. I ask the Lord, the ultimate source of power, love and wisdom—the One who created us and loves us most—to help me do what I cannot do on my own: change. Real and lasting change is possible with God's power at work in us.
So whether your goals for the year ahead include losing four pounds or forty pounds, getting out of debt or finally doing that thing you just never get around to doing, ask God to empower you. And then remember: Life doesn't change one day at a time, but one choice at a time. Choice by choice, moment by moment—with God's power at work in you—transformation happens. Change comes.
Get inspired. Lastly, but most importantly, God's Word is the fuel for our faith. So here are eight Bible verses for the year ahead. May they give you strong hope, good courage, and joy despite your circumstances.
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long
Psalm 25: 4-5
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you
hope and a future."
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will
do the works I have been doing, and they will do
even greater things than these, because
I am going to the Father.
Jesus, in John 14:12
Prayer for the New Year
Lord, thank you for the past year. I'm grateful for all You have done for me. In the hard times and the good times I choose to praise You. And now, I stand at the start of a fresh new year and I ask for Your blessing on the days ahead. Give me courage and wisdom to make right choices, even when I don't feel like it. Give me strength in the challenging times with hope for better days ahead. Teach me how to trust You more. And live a live filled with increasing love and joy, so I can receive all you have for me and be a blessing to others. I ask in Jesus' mighty name. Amen.