The New Year. A clean slate. A fresh start. I am always so inspired as I take down my Christmas decorations, clear out the clutter and get ready for a reset in my life. I like to open up a fresh new calendar with endless possibilities wondering what God will bring into this new year.
Walking into a new year can be equally exciting and terrifying.
What will you have to walk through? What will God use to teach you? What blessings will be coming? What hardships are awaiting me?
We can choose to walk in faith or fear. In hope or dread. Or perhaps somewhere in between.
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, it is a sacrifice. A sacrifice of ourselves, of our ambitions and desires. Surrendering means taking on whatever happens and whatever God has for us, with the great assurance that God will be there to gently hold us in place as we experience the giant waves of life as they either crush us or carry us.
In the third book of Daniel, we learn about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were three Jews that refused to fall and worship the golden idol erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. Because they disobeyed the King they were sentenced to be put into a fiery furnace, but their faith stood on the steadfast assurance of a very present God.
“I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve can save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
The key phrase that stands out to me in this story is "even if." They chose to trust God to rescue them from the blazing flames but simultaneously believed that even if God didn’t rescue them physically that they would continue to trust and serve Him, trusting in His perfect ways.
But God showed up. They walked into the furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual, but they were not alone. The king was shocked as he looked into the blazing flames. He did not see the three tied-up men that had been thrown in, but he saw four men, untied and walking in the fire, the fourth being an angel of God. The three men walked out of the furnace untouched. At this point, the astounded King sent them on their way. These men were miraculously unharmed because they chose to “believe in, trust in and rely on God”. (Dan 3:28)
Do you believe this about God? Do you trust God with your "even if's?" When you head into a new year with a twinge of fear, a whisper of the unknown taunting you, do you still trust that God will be there when you need Him the most?
In Mark 9:23 we read that “all things are possible for the one who believes and trusts in me.”
What are you walking into this year that teeters on fear? What has God called you to that tempts you to give up because of the unknown outcomes?
This year I am especially excited because it will be the year that I finish and publish my book. But at the same time, I can easily settle into a feeling of dread because the book I am writing is not easy. It is the story of the loss of my husband and how over the last decade God has proven Himself faithful in immense suffering. I am in the process of delicately combing through pages and pages of journal and blog entries that have gracefully recorded all the events that occurred leading up to this diagnosis, death, and beyond. I am essentially reliving the past in hopes that I can encourage people in their future after loss. It is a daunting task but one I am willing to take on for the sake of others who are suffering.
I can’t keep God’s goodness to myself.
I am walking into the new year with the hope of sharing God’s goodness like never before but I am also dreading the hard days that this writing will bring. The tears will flow as I relieve my worst nightmare.
So how do we live gracefully in the middle between excitement and dread? Accepting all that God has for us, no matter what?
We rely on and believe God’s word. He is faithful, no matter how dire your situation and no matter what the future holds. We stand firm in this belief even as the world is screaming the opposite.
Search the Word for truths that you can memorize to strengthen you for when challenging times come. Saturate your mind with the truths of scripture so that you can refer to them when you need them. Look back on the bold stories of the Bible when God showed up, maybe even in the 11th hour. Let these stories remind you, encourage you, and fill you with hope. Let them fill you with a hope that even though we live in a fallen world, God’s goodness stands firm.
Surrender all the things as you build your life on the solid and stable character of God.
Our God is faithful. Our God is trustworthy. Our God will hold you in this new year as you rest in confident assurance that He has you, no matter what.
Kaley Rivera Thompson is an author, copywriter, public speaker, and musician. She serves as the Director of Communications and Donor Relations for the student sports-centric nonprofit she and her husband, Gage, run called Twelve. When she's not championing other women, cheering on the rising generation, writing or playing her guitar, Kaley loves to sip strong coffee, go on hikes, or take a day trip to the mountains with her family. She takes the most pride in being a mom to two little girls, Lina and Lili. You can follow her on instagram at @kriverathompson or find out more on her website at kriverathompson.com.