Happy New Year!
I write those words to you because I hope that 2024 is a happy one for you. But perhaps not in the way we often think about it. We may wish that for ourselves or others out of a desire for 2024 to be better for us than 2023. We sometimes take it one step farther and say, “It has to get better.” But does it, really? Whose life as it is truly lived is an endless streak of each year being better than the one before? And which challenges- or blessings, for that matter- come with advance notice sufficient that we can avoid them or fully embrace them?
Some of us take matters into our own hands by making resolutions as the calendar turns. These fall under predictable categories, are usually behavioral in nature, and are variations on the theme “try harder.” Very few of these resolutions result in permanent growth or change, and most are abandoned within a month
Is there a better way to begin 2024? One that is more likely to produce real change, change that can carry us through both challenges and blessings, change grounded in something beyond our own willpower, and change with eternal significance?
The word that the Bible uses for “happy” is the same as the word for “blessed.” When Jesus speaks a word of blessing, it is more than a wish, it is a promise that he makes to be with us in all circumstances, but especially in difficulties. And any day that finds us closer to Jesus is a better day. I can’t promise that resolutions to lose weight, save money, or use fewer substances will immediately bring results. But the things that drive us to stress eat, overspend, or seek escape can get smaller- less overwhelming- when Jesus is bigger- more central- in our lives.
I’ll end where I began: Happy, no…better Blessed New Year! May our next steps move us closer to the one who has promised to be with us always. Grace and Peace.