What do you think of when someone mentions the new year? Do you hope or wish that the new year will be better? When I’ve worked with counseling clients around this time of year, they usually speak of wishing or hoping for a better year. Specifically, they will say something like “I hope this year is better than last.” My response to that statement is: “Is hope enough?” You see, if we allow our lives to be governed by fate, or hope in the unpredictable, then we ourselves become victims of that fate. If we surrender control of our future to the unreliable or unknown, we feel failure when things don’t go as planned. It becomes “new year, same fear.” 

A healthy way to enter the new year is to plan how our hearts, minds and attitudes will change as well. The unexpected will always be possible, but how we train ourselves to respond to these events will determine the quality of the year. I encourage my counseling clients in this manner by asking them, “What is one way you can change your attitude to ensure a better year?” This gives them and us greater control over how the year becomes better. The same is true for expectations of the Christian man or woman. Our words and our focus shapes how our life unfolds. 

Choose any one of the six verses in Psalm 23 and take a moment to realize the undeniable and all-encompassing hope it provides. For instance, verses 5 and 6: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Not only does God promise you a year filled with goodness and mercy, He promises a lifetime of it! 

No longer do we need to wish or hope on the unreliable or the unpredictable. When we have faith, God’s promises of peace, mercy and goodness are guaranteed for our whole lives. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). In this verse, Jesus promises peace to his disciples before he returns to Heaven. This is a promise we can stand on as children of God and heirs of His Spirit. Such a peace it is, that it can overcome even the most unexpected and unpredictable disasters. 

So as we approach our attitudes for this new year, let’s remove the fear of the unexpected and unknown. 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that we have the Spirit of God in us. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self- discipline.” And so (1 John 4:16), “ …we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Therefore, (verse 18), “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

Let’s make this “new year, no fear.”

Andrew McCleary is pastor of life fellowship and community-based organization resource for the Tulare County Suicide Prevention Task Force. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Community Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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