New Year Anxieties
I often begin a new year a little anxious.
I didn’t use to do so. Before, I would begin each year with gusto, eagerly anticipating what good things lay ahead for me and mine.
But for the last 3 years, there have been trying times occurring in January. These coincided with year-long struggles over certain issues within our family. Between beginning a year with a crisis and then experiencing a long trail, I can feel beat down- black and blue from the battles experienced.
So instead of eagerly anticipating, I can default to fearfully dreading what lay ahead for us. This is what comes naturally to me in my flesh.
But I have more to bring to the fight than my flesh!
I have learned what helps me the most when I am feeling my weakest.
Helpful Tool and Practice #1
More than 10 years ago, I was introduced to the chronological Bible. It is a one year Bible organized in the order of events as they happened in history. So for instance, as I read about David, I am reading the Psalms he wrote at that particular time in his life. And as I read about certain kings, I read the prophets that were ministering during their reigns.
As an orderly and sequential learner, it has made a dramatic impact on me spiritually. To read the Bible as it truly occurred historically has made such an improvement in my understanding of God and His story.
Another benefit is that it is divided into daily readings that cover a year in time. So each day I know what to do as I sit down for my quiet time. No more fumbling around trying to figure out what to read. It is a set schedule that works well for me and reading the whole Bible through is life changing!
I don’t use my chronological every year because I found that anything can become too structured and then stagnant. It is also a pretty fast pace studying for a year. The good news is that it provides a big picture of history but the drawback is that you cannot linger where you may want. One way I change it up is to use the chronological to focus on a year-long study of the Gospels.
Helpful Tool and Practice #2
Another favorite of mine is “Streams In The Desert” by L.B. Cowman. It is a devotional written by a woman many years ago. It is a deep devotional that is very comforting when your heart is hurting. It is like balm to my soul at times, filled with Scripture, stories, and poetry.
Like the chronological Bible, I do not use it every year, but it is always close by for when I am feeling a little banged up and bruised by the punches in life that seem to come out of nowhere. You know, the ones you don’t see coming. Whether it is health, financial, relational, or job-related, it can happen before you anticipate it, leaving you caught off guard.
But with these two tools, which I have found to be vital for my strength and encouragement, I am ready for the new year. Whether God is glorified through my ease or my suffering, I have what I need to make it through.
Whatever my future, I know God is already there!