We are not even 30 days into the new year and it seems some of the luster of hope and cheer has worn off. Many people have already set aside their new year’s resolutions, sliding back into previous ways. In fact, one study from the United Kingdom a few years ago reported that by mid-February, 80% of resolutions will have been left behind. I wonder if Valentine’s Day has anything to do with that? Actually, I will just blame COVID. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t exist when the study was made, it is just a nice convenient cover for anything that didn’t go right.
I recently had to visit the doctor and had to get on the dreaded “doctor scale” in January, right after the holiday feasts. You know the is a special scale because, just like TV ads, they add 10 pounds to you.
The doctor comes in eyeing your chart, making a little “tsk, tsk” noise. “Jim, looks like you put on some weight since you were here last.” I just looked at her and said, “COVID.” She shook her head and said, “Me too.” It was like a January Christmas gift. So, guess what resolution and plan is back on the table?
Actually, 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have seen many people’s resolutions and plans come unraveled. We have all seen life events take place that threaten to overwhelm us. As we have seen this COVID-9 virus spill across the world, some people have been so scared they have remained virtual prisoners in their own homes. Others have taken a polar-opposite view and unintentionally spread the disease. And COVID-19 hasn’t been our only issue; there were pre-existing conditions and cancers and broken relationships and other stresses from loss of jobs and income, and for some, loss of life … each and every one unraveling all the plans that we had so carefully made. It is so easy to become overwhelmed. Even when you are walking the right path, living the best you know how … life can come unraveled … you can become overwhelmed. If you find yourself in that place, you are in good company.
There is hope. In fact, the hope is in the one whose birth we just celebrated last month. At Christmas we celebrated that God breaks into the darkness and brokenness of this world and does so, not with this show of might and power, but through a tiny infant born to two nobodies (as far as the world was concerned). Jesus, the holy babe, points to the fact that there are better days yet to come. In fact, we remember, retell and celebrate the Christmas story, because it is part of God’s tale to each of us that we will never be forgotten or forsaken. God will always be with us, especially in those horrible messy times of life when life has become so unraveled, we can’t even find words to pray or the seeming ability to press on.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” [Romans 8:28, ESV].
As we go through this new year making all kinds of plans and resolutions on how we want the year to work out, just remember when the plans of our life come unraveled, we have a loving God who is working out things for our good. Let’s press onward.