By Jennifer Duncan
The new year is almost always a time of hope and new resolve, especially after a difficult year! But it can also be a discouraging time for many— a time when we think about all that we did not accomplish in the past year, and often settle into feelings of regret and disappointment. God’s Word encourages us to focus on the present, and trust that He wants to work in our lives, beginning now.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion….” Philippians 1:6
My late husband was a pastor in Southwest Missouri for many years…and he rarely repeated a sermon. But every year on the first Sunday of the new year, he preached the same one. It was titled, “You Can Begin Again.” He reminded us, year after year, that no matter what has happened in the past, God wants us to know we can always have a fresh start. His words helped us remember some basic principles for facing the new year.
We can begin again after failure. Even when we have good intentions, we stumble. We make mistakes; we say things we shouldn’t; we fail to perform. Yet God’s love is steadfast and He picks us up from our failure and gives us a little nudge in the right direction.
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on….” Philippians 3:13-14
We can begin again after grief and loss. Sometimes our hardships are not anyone’s fault. Things just happen because we live in a fallen world. But, if we let Him, God will strengthen us, as we focus on His love and trust Him to help us heal. We must deliberately look at the joyful things and the hope God gives as we make a new start.
“Be grateful for what God has given rather than resentful for what He has withheld. One or the other becomes a way of life.” Elizabeth Elliott
We can begin again after disappointments. Maybe someone has let us down this year — or a well-loved dream has fallen through. Yet, even if we were deeply wronged, we can decide to forgive and let it go. To begin again, we must release our strangle hold on those people and things which have disappointed us and take hold of the Father’s hand.
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you….” Colossians 3:13
A good example of one who turned failure into a positive future is Charles Colson. A former White House Special Counsel, he was convicted in the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. He served seven months in federal prison. Out of this fall from power and prestige, Colson came to know Christ as Savior and founded Prison Fellowship, a worldwide ministry to prisoners that is still functioning today. Charles Colson began again, after failure, loss and disappointment.
God wants to do a new thing in our lives this new year. He says, in Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not see it?” Won’t you take your eyes off the problem, and focus on the Provider? He wants to fulfill His promises in and through you.