Choose How You Want to Live in 2023
Here are a few thoughts on dealing with
life surprises and troubling circumstances
as Christmas and the New Year draw near.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year, and how will it affect the way you live in the New Year and beyond?
At the end of each year, I tend to look back to see how my life changed that year, how I spent most of my time, and what I have to show for it at year’s end. This gives me perspective on what I want to do or accomplish in the New Year.
The older I get, the more I realize how many things we take for granted when we’re young, and much more so as we grow older. We blithely go through life thinking we’re in control—until we’re not. As our body ages, we may be surprised by something that makes it difficult for us to speak, see, hear, walk, or drive. We may believe we’ll always have the physical or mental strength to do whatever we want, but our body has plans of its own, and at some point in our aging process we may get a big surprise in the form of an accident or unsuspected medical situation that comes with a package of pain and grief. Or, we may lose a loved one or a beloved pet whose absence is emotionally devastating.
Life certainly has a way of interrupting our best-laid plans. But what you should remember when life upsets your applecart is that you have a God who will help you deal with everything you can’t handle yourself. You simply need to ask for His help and guidance.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-14NIV).
Dealing with Life Circumstances
I’ve often found myself in circumstances that caused me emotional or physical pain and unhappiness for a while. But I’ve learned to not complain about this but consider that I might be exactly where God wants me to be. When an upset in our life makes us feel unhappy or insecure, we need to ask if perhaps God put us where we are at that moment because we’re supposed to do something or learn a new life lesson while in those circumstances.
“Too often we try to use God to change our circumstances, while He is using our circumstances to change us.” –Dr. David Osborn, Denver Seminary
“Stop focusing on your circumstances or on what you don't have and focus on Who goes with you. For if you look carefully in your wilderness, you'll find that the glory of God is there as well.” –from Jonathan Cahn's monthly SAPPHIRES booklet
The Message of Christmas
As you get even busier around Christmas, remember that this holiday should be about peace, not productivity. This is when we need to move our focus from putting presents under the tree to having the presence of Jesus Christ in our life. It’s the season of welcoming our King, Emmanuel—a name that means “God is with us.”
We’re not alone, folks! Now is the time to praise the Son of God who came to bring salvation to a lost and dying world. As John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“Of all the prestigious names God could have chosen from the annals of Israel’s history, He chose Jesus—a shortened form of Joshua—which signifies SAVIOR. That Jesus came to save is the essence of His message.” –Charles R. Swindoll
I have followed Chuck Swindoll’s teachings on the radio for years, so I was delighted to hear that at the age of 88 he has a new book and sermon series titled Clinging to HOPE: What Scripture Says about Weathering Times of Trouble, Chaos, and Calamity. Check out his website for book details, a rich archive of his teachings, and a deeply personal video interview with his daughter about his life history and his need to cling to the hope offered to us through Christ.
My Wishes for You
I wish all of you a peaceful and joyful Christmas that will be a time of renewed hope and strengthening of your faith. If you cannot yet see the wonder of God in your life or the world at large, I pray you will be loved and encouraged by family and friends this most special season of the year.
May your New Year be bright with surprising opportunities, small miracles, and success in your chosen endeavors. All of us will surely be presented with many new problems and challenges in 2023, but isn’t it comforting to know we don’t have to deal with them by ourselves? Let’s put the troubles of the world behind us and go forward with a sense of peace and hope as we strive to live in a way that honors God.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).
This article was previously published as a Brabec Bulletin blog post on December 17, 2022.
Christian Encouragement T/C