“Truly God is good.”
For most people, each new year begins with a long list of resolutions for change. We determine to alter the way we look, the way we act, and the way we spend our time. Personally, I’ve never been the type to head into January with more than a few New Year’s resolutions, but I almost always begin my year with a general idea of things I’d like to do differently.
Unfortunately, research shows that only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals. I’ve personally been among the other 92% quite often, and so I can say from experience that this failure isn’t usually due to the resolution being unattainable; most of the time, it’s a simple lack of commitment on my part.
The most defining moments in a person’s life are usually unscripted.
So if most New Year’s resolutions don’t reflect an unwavering commitment to change, why is our culture seemingly obsessed with them this time of year? Perhaps it’s not about lifestyle changes at all. Maybe, just maybe, we derive comfort from approaching the uncertainty of a new year with script in hand, as if we know exactly what’s on the horizon. For some reason, we struggle to acknowledge humbly with David, “My times are in thy hand” (Ps. 31:15).
Of course the most defining moments in a person’s life are usually unscripted. Loved ones die unexpectedly. Careers fall apart. Best friends prove unreliable. We may attempt to comfort ourselves with the illusion that we’ve got everything under control, but the very clear reality is that we “know not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). Unfortunately, this realization often hits us like a ton of bricks when we least expect it, leaving us disillusioned and disappointed.
We grip the steering wheel of life tightly and respond in horror when things don’t go according to plan.
For many, the uncertainty of tomorrow is terrifying. We grip the steering wheel of life tightly and respond in horror when things don’t go according to plan, forgetting that God’s plans have always been higher (and thus different) than our own (Isa. 55:9). Just as we are offered “the oil of joy for mourning” and “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” God graciously offers us a future characterized by “peace, and not of evil” (Jer. 29:11). The only caveat is that we must surrender to Him our own best-laid plans, and “lean not on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Looking back on 2015, I certainly haven’t succeeded in accomplishing every goal I made twelve months ago. God’s plans for this year have been much different than my own, but I can say without any hesitation that they’ve been indescribably better. Outward circumstances are susceptible to constant change, and that change is sometimes painful. The good news is that despite the unpredictability of life, “the goodness of God endureth continually” (Ps. 52:1). He is the giver of every good gift (Jas. 1:17), even if they’re sometimes shaped like bricks.