It's Okay to Reflect on the Year Gone By, But Don't Get Stuck There
I’ve noticed a theme over the past couple of weeks, both online and in real-life interactions: Last year was hard.
And it was, wasn’t it? So many of us have been reflecting over the past year and counting up all the things that went wrong. In fact, my husband and I were doing just that when I suggested we make a list of all the hard things we experienced in the past year. He didn’t think it was such a good idea as it would only make us depressed. He’s a wise man.
But it’s tempting to do, isn’t it? To make a list of all the ways last year was awful. Maybe because we want to convince ourselves that there’s no way this year could be that bad. Maybe because we want to be reminded of what we can survive and endure. Maybe because it’s just so easy to get caught up in the negative.
And that’s why this week’s verse is so important as we enter the new year. Paul tells us that we’re not there yet—we haven’t yet reached the perfection of Heaven. I am reminded that because we live in a fallen world, we can expect difficulty. Then he follows with what I’m considering to be my instructions for the year: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
That’s it. That’s my mantra for the year ahead. Not to dwell on the difficulties of the past, but instead to strain forward to what lies ahead. That’s not to say we can’t learn from the past, but we can’t get stuck there, reliving the worst parts of the past year. We must be able to move forward from it.
And what are we moving toward? Our resolutions? Our words for the year? Perhaps. But only if those things are built on the foundation of the goal Paul speaks of: the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In this new year, let’s press on toward the goal of doing God’s will. Let’s press on to inviting him into every aspect of our lives. Let’s press on to consulting him in each decision we make. Let’s press on toward living lives that reflect His will and bring Him glory . . . even if this year is just as difficult as the last.
Here’s to a new year and a God who doesn’t change. Here’s to resolutions, and words, and goals that reflect His will. Here’s to forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
Here’s to 2022.