New Year’s Resolutions, Uncertainty, and God’s Sovereignty

Christmas is over. Yesterday marked my last day of festivities. This morning I took my daughter to get her ears pierced, one of her Christmas presents. As of 12:27pm today, I was officially done with celebrating Christmas. As far as taking down Christmas ornaments and cleaning up the debris from all the celebrating, well that falls more into New Year’s activities. And I am getting all geared up for New Years. 

Without fail, every year, I get excited about New Years. Every single year I think, this is the year. This is the year I will lose weight. This is the year I will become more disciplined. This is the year I will grow exponentially in my spiritual disciplines. This is the Year!!

I start making plans. This is the diet I’m going to try. This is the exercise plan I will attempt. These are the Good Habits I’m going to start. These are the Bad Habits I’m going to get rid of. 

RIght now, I’m pretty convinced that starting Jan 5th, I will be waking up at 6 am every day, getting on my elliptical with a sun lamp pointed at my face, working hard for thirty minutes while I listen to scripture being read out loud from my Bible App. Then I will go eat a small breakfast of vegetables and rice and maybe some fish thrown in. (And all these things will lead to inner peace, weight loss and lots of energy.) 

Hey, a woman can dream right? 

Interestingly, I was reading “The Atlantic” magazine today (a stocking-stuffer from my husband!) and the very first pages had an advertisement/article whose headline said, “Uncertain about the future?” and then at the end of the article, also in big letters, “Make a Plan”. The article of course had scientific evidence of how uncertainty stresses us out, and making a plan alleviates a lot of that stress. I think this is a coping skill I have been using for a long time. Making plans always makes me feel better. 

Uncertainty may be why we always face a new year with lots of New Year’s Resolutions. We have no idea what the New Year is going to bring, so we cope with that uncertainty by making all kinds of plans that should bring us health and prosperity. Almost like a good luck charm. If I just do A, B, and C, then I am guaranteed a good year. 

In the end, I know that I will not follow all my “plans” perfectly. I’m still hopeful. But, I know I will mess up. And even if I do succeed it will be a series of ups and downs. I also know that I have no way of predicting what is going to happen in this upcoming year. We still have election uncertainties, covid, vaccines, shaky economies, schools opening and shutting, lots of shifting in the world governments and systems. I have no guarantees that this upcoming year will be better than the one we just weathered. And yet, I am feeling hopeful. 

We had a very good Christmas. We ended up with a lot of snow, which for many people in our area ended up causing a lot of trouble, but for us, it was just pretty white stuff on the ground. Everything went smoothly. No sickness. (We’ve had several Christmases where we’ve been hit with the stomach bug.) The kids enjoyed each other’s company. My oldest daughter has been able to be with us. Everyone liked their presents. I have felt like this time has been a gift from God. A gift of Peace and Joy. And I really don’t know if I’m getting this gift because it will be a good memory to hang on to when things get rough again, or if it’s just the beginning of a better year. Only God knows. But, it made me feel seen. Made me feel like God was watching out for me. Made me remember that God is still in control. I’m in his hands. 

In the end, we live in uncertain times. All humanity has always lived in uncertain times. And we can make all the plans we want, but we have no guarantees that those plans will come to fruition. Psalm 20 verse 7 says, 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 

God has our future in his hands. The great drama of world history that is playing out before our eyes is also in his hands. And that is our true source of hope. For those who have put their trust in God, his hands are the safest place to be. 

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