I ain’t been saved all my life, but I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough to remember that this used to be the prime time of the year when self-proclaimed prophets would come out the woodwork “decreeing and declaring” that the new year would be our year if we “named it and claimed it.” But now that we’ve been living with Covid, I haven’t heard or seen these declarations as much as in the past. I suppose an ever-enduring pandemic that’s been going on for two years and counting has a way of humbling haughty prophets and leveling our best-laid plans.
I know most people look forward to the new year so they can start new rhythms, set intentions and goals, access areas of improvement and, dare I say, make some new-year resolutions. Can I be real with y’all, though? I am not most people. In fact, I envy those people because the dawn of a new year brings with it an incredible amount of anxiety for me.
I haven’t always been like this, but the optimism I once felt when I was a child began to dissipate thanks to a dastardly combination of deferred hopes and the untimely deaths of my father, aunts, and many other loved ones gone too soon. The pandemic hasn’t helped either, now that the omicron variant (or as our people have jokingly called it, the “Omarion variant”) is pop-locking, dropping, and moonwalking all over the land and our plans. From this side of 2021, it’s looking like 2022 is giving 2020.
But is it really? You see, I have to question my declarations, too, because my problem is that I live in the future with my roommate, worry. Back in October, I tweeted about this saying, “One thing about me: Imma pray and worry,” and the super saints went in. They jumped up talking about “you can’t pray and worry” and “if you worry, you’re not praying enough.” Well, I’m not a super saint. I’m a sinner saved by grace, turned regular saint and a child of God, who has concerns, worries, and fears like many of us do. Maybe the super saints can’t relate, but I’m thankful that Jesus can. The wonder and majesty of Jesus is that He is both fully God and fully man, which is why He sympathizes with our weaknesses according to Hebrews 4:15. From His abundance of love, grace, and sympathy, Jesus speaks to my anxious heart saying,
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Unlike the super saints on Twitter, Jesus did not speak this as a rebuke, but as a loving exhortation and gentle reminder inviting me to consider my value against the ravens. If God takes care of the least of His creation, the birds, He will take care of the crown of His creation, human beings made in His own image.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” With each passing year, the questions continue to amass without many answers, but I know that on this side of Glory, I must traverse the inevitable highs and lows that attend each year while praising God for the occasional answers that are revealed. Some years are terrible while others are triumphant. Such is life. But one thing remains constant: God’s grace goes before me and meets me in every moment of every year.
My life is a case study in God’s grace. Despite my deliberate attempts to dwell in my self-manufactured pit of worry, the Holy Spirit woos me and beckons me to believe once again, dream once again, and hope once again. Not in a new year. After all, there is nothing inherently magical about a new year but in the God who exists beyond space and time yet holds me and my times in His hands.
What emotions come up for you during the cusp of a New Year?Leave a Comment