New outlook for a new year


It’s a new year, but I didn’t have to tell you all that. Everyone, likely, for weeks has been discussing what their resolutions will be and what they hope to accomplish in the new year. It’s the same scenario every year. Many of us make resolutions we never intend to keep. That’s why, several years ago, I stopped even bothering to make any up. I just didn’t see the point anymore.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a pessimist. Once, my mom told me that when I was three, and we moved to California, I kept telling her that I would never make any new friends. (Unless I got that story wrong, but that’s what I remember her saying). I have always found it hard to find the good in any situation and the glass is always half empty.

As I’ve gotten older, life has just made me more negative and cynical. Nowadays, instead of driving my mom nuts, I drive my husband nuts with all the negativity. There are people all around me, but I always feel lonely, depressed, and in the dark. Then, as I’m feeling bad about how I feel, I berate myself because I believe I am supposed to be joyful and optimistic. I have God in my life, so shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t that make me content? I go around and around in my head. So what should I do?

I think about the verse that most people I know seem to like best, Philippians 4:13, “I am able to do all things through the one [Christ] who strengthens me.” It seems, to me, people like to quote that verse and talk about glorious victories. And in some ways, it does. But, what if we back up a couple of verses? Verses 11 and 12 read, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.”

Paul was saying that Christ gave him the strength to be content in any circumstance, not just ones that led to a victory. He would be content no matter how long he went hungry or in need and he would be content when he was satisfied and had plenty. It seems that Christ gave him the strength to stay on an even keel. To keep him from depression when he was in the dark and to keep him from pride or arrogance when he felt on top of the world. I believe we could say that Christ gave him the strength to also die for Him. How many people think about that when they quote Philippians 4:13?

So back to my issue of being content. Yes, God does give me the strength to be content. But, as with all of the other “gifts” He give us, we have to accept it. I have to let go and let God in. I have to choose to accept what He has to offer. Every day, I have to choose to ask for His strength to move my mind and thoughts from the darkness and depression into the light and contentment.

Like choosing what to wear each morning; I have to get up and choose to put on the full armor of God. Because what happens in my mind is more than just my thoughts. There is always a war going on and I have to make the choice to stand and fight. As it says in Ephesians 6:10-17:
Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. (11) Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. (13) For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. (14) Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, (16) and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

So, as I get up each morning, I have to remind myself to choose. Choose to ask for His strength (pray). Choose to put on the armor (read my Bible). Choose to stand and fight–fight against the forces of evil and the thoughts that invade my mind. I know it will be a painful battle, marked by many scars. But in the end, all will be healed.

Lord, I ask you today, and every day, come. Come into my heart; knead it until it’s soft. Come into my thoughts; sweep all the dirt away. Come into my life; turn up the light until it shines out Your glory. Mold me as the potter molds the clay. Help me to stop struggling against Your will. Remove the fears and insecurities that keep me walled in, away from everyone. Help me to understand Your will and the plans that you have for me. I cry out to You, “Come and save me! Make me Yours.” I want to know You. I want to grow. I want to truly understand what it means to be Your child. Come and find your lost sheep. I humbly and painfully ask in Jesus’ name. AMEN!

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