Well, it is finally 2021, but somehow it doesn’t feel like a new year at all. In fact, most of us are feeling stuck, and fatigued. We are tired of having compassion, tired of being locked up and tired of having zoom meetings. Morale seems to be getting low both in workplaces and in homes. This, in turn, decreases productivity and focus, while increasing stress and short tempers. Fear, anxiety and hopelessness are at an all time high for many. It is hard.
James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” None of us may be handling every moment of this season perfectly, but there is a blessing for those who remain steadfast. They will experience life and life more abundantly. How do we become steadfast in such trying times? Two keys I have found helpful are giving and gratitude.
This year is a financially challenging season for many, but that doesn’t mean we have to choose between our budget and gifts. Think of it this way, many people have a love language that is not gifts. And this year may be the year you actually give them something that might be more meaningful to them – and it’s free. 2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “… “the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”
You can intentionally give quality time, or an act of service or words of encouragement. You can give time, a conversation, teach someone a skill or help them move. Focusing on ways you can help others helps to keep our mind in a more positive space.
Gratitude is also a powerful force to bring healthy perspective into our lives. The news and social media tend to focus on a lot of negative information. I think this year, more than any year, is a year to celebrate the good! Let’s thank God for the blessings He has given us! Let’s focus on our family, friendships, and relationships. Let’s focus on the work God did for us by shedding His blood. Let’s focus on things that are eternal and don’t change instead of things that come and go. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Gratitude is helpful because it increases long-term positive feelings more than buying whatever that new thing is that you want. Gratitude also reduces fear. It reminds us that our worst fears are not realized, and we are cared for by God who has provided you with things like the internet and education to be able to read this, and likely much, much more.
These two things are so powerful, because they tend to keep us from isolating ourselves from God and others and making things worse for ourselves. One of the things I like to think about is that whatever we are concerned about, He is concerned about. He loves us that much, that He really cares about what concerns you at this time and wants you to talk to Him about them. He also wants to provide a way for you to cope well with it and that is part of why He instructs us in His word to give and be grateful. He knows it is a hard time, but let me reassure you that He believes in you, and believes that you can remain steadfast and receive the reward of this challenging season.