As 2022 came to a close, I found myself in a rut — I was irritable and tired, with nothing left in the tank. I realized I wasn’t the kind of person I would want to follow. So I started thinking about what had gone wrong.
On the surface, 2022 was not a tough year. Business was good, the family was healthy, and life generally went smoothly. But below the surface, life was different. The year started with a close friend moving away, compounded by organizational changes, and ended with me struggling to maintain positivity amid increased stress, sickness, and frustration.
Do you see the pattern of what stress created? Realizing what was happening, I needed to regain perspective. To that end, in the new year, I’ll be pondering these three questions every day. I’ll share them below, then explain why I chose them.
Question 1: What do I need to forget?
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He (God) removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
Question 2: What do I need to remember?
“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18
Question 3: What makes me joyful?
“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Why These Questions?
The only way I know how to proceed is to be brutally honest…I am incredibly hard on myself. In the wrong state of mind, I dig far back into the past and scrutinize things I did wrong — which denies the power of the Cross. I have an almost continual state of mind that critiques my every word, decision, and action. The lack of grace I give to myself denies what I believe and makes me unloving to others.
Can you relate to any of what I am sharing? Are you fixated on some ability you lack, some circumstances you cannot change, or some hurt you experienced in the past?
This is why I am suggesting we (and I include myself here) start with the question of what we need to forget. Could it be that we are carrying something God never intended us to carry?
This question struck me one night in November when I just wanted to quit, give up, and call it over. My anger sizzled that night. I was so frustrated. But the angrier I got — and I know this sounds weird — the more I could hear a soft whisper deep within me saying, “I never asked you to carry this.” It was time for me to forget my mistakes (again) and trust in God’s forgiveness.
Just doing that, however, doesn’t accomplish much. Remembering who God is, His character, and for me, His reality, shifts me from wishful thinking to reality. “Remembering” is mentioned throughout the Bible because, perhaps, we humans so easily forget. Or is that my struggle alone?
The Bible is honest about life’s difficulties, the destructive path of life separated from God, and the reality of pain and suffering. Yet these realities are exactly why we need to remember! We need to remember the hope we feel when we hold a new baby, see the first snow of the season, or hear the waves crash onto the beach.
Life is hard. We will die. These are the facts of life. Yet, God remains good both now and into the future. One day He will set things right. I am not being trite, but we have to wait and remember for now.
And this is why we can be joyful! We can be joyful because we no longer have to carry what we were never meant to carry. We can be joyful because we can honestly assess the reality of the world while remembering the future hope we cling to. This frees us up to meet each day anew. We can be thankful for that day, and joyful in that day, because it is the only day we have.
How I Got Here
Here is how I came to these three questions: I lacked joy in 2022 because I failed to remember what Jesus did by being fixated on my own mistakes and junk.
I cannot put it more plainly than that.
This year, I promise to:
And find Joy
Will you consider doing the same?