God's compassion can help you realize your dreams
It is tempting at such moments, when we realize that our best intentions probably won't become a reality this year either, to simply give up and decide that we'll do better next year. But I would like to challenge all of us, myself included, to rethink this approach.
As we probably realize, the beginning of a new year on Jan. 1 is an artificial construct. We could as logically put the beginning of each new year anywhere we want. Many societies count the spring equinox, around March 21, as the beginning of the year, with its rich symbolism of a return to life after the long slumber of winter.
But our society is steeped in the tradition of ball drops and countdown on the night of Dec. 31, ringing in the new year at midnight, and with it the hope of a new start, a clean slate, and fresh possibilities. And it really is good to be able to put the past behind us a bit, and to focus on the hope that the future brings.
But what are we to do if we find by the second or third week of the year that the new us that we had planned on becoming has turned out to be the same old us, with the same old failings and foibles, regardless of our well-intentioned plans to change?
One Bible verse that has helped me over the years comes from Lamentations 3:21-23 (New International Version). Lamentations is a funeral dirge for the city of Jerusalem. The Babylonian forces of Nebuchadnezzar have torn down the wall, killed many people, taken others captive, and even burned down the temple. There seems to be no hope left at all. Yet in the middle of this funeral song, Jeremiah suddenly sees a ray of light: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Because the compassions of the Lord are new every morning, we have the potential for a new start, a clean slate, every new morning as well. It doesn't matter that the world may seem to be falling into ruin and chaos all around us. For those who belong to the Lord, every new morning, every new hour, every new moment has the potential for a fresh start, a new beginning.
I have some good friends who have quit smoking, others who have quit drinking, and for all of them it was hard. They failed often. But those who ultimately succeeded in getting away from these addictions weren't the ones who, after they failed, decided that next year, next January 1st they would try again. Instead, the ones who were successful were the ones who, upon finding themselves to have failed, made a fresh determination to start again, right then. And, ultimately, they were successful.
I don't know what your resolutions this year were about. Maybe for some they were about losing weight or getting fit. For others they were focused on repairing and rebuilding relationships. And for others, they might have had more to do with work or finances. But the subject isn't really important.
If you find that you have fallen away from your original intentions to make some area of your life better this year, start again. Grab hold of a fresh batch of determination and decide that you will take advantage of God's ever-new compassion to make a fresh stab at your dreams tomorrow. And if you fail tomorrow, keep reaching out for God's new opportunities, and keep moving forward. If you keep moving forward, you will ultimately succeed.