January's Story

jill mcilreavy

Hope for the New Year 

Why does January feel, to so many people, like the bleakest of months? Is it because, when the first of January looms after the joy of Christmas, we begin to pick up our heavy burdens again? We reload our shoulders with responsibilities, feeling the weight of decisions to be made and resolutions that we will inevitably struggle to keep. Anxiety casts a dark shadow on the joy we felt at Christmas, and our hearts begin to feel anxious about the year ahead. 

When King David found himself with a dry and anxious soul, he knew where to go. He wrote: ”I am losing all hope; I am paralysed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.“ (Psalm 143:46)

At his lowest moments, when the future looked bleak, David didn’t sweep his anxieties under the proverbial rug of a new gym membership, fad diet, or short-lived resolution. He let the dry and thirsty place of weariness, anxiety and heartache lead him to the only Well that had ever truly satisfied his soul, where he could drink deeply from its living water.

God is the same today as he was then. David wrote throughout the Psalms about the strength, hope and clarity that comes when we put our hope in God. When we let our anxiety and thirst lead us to him, he will always, graciously provide what we need at the beginning of another new year. 

Strength for the Weary
”But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.“ (Psalm 59:1617)

I may forget sometimes that the strength I need most is not measured on my smartwatch, in steps taken or hours slept. But the strength I really need is a strength that cannot be found anywhere but in the Lord. It’s a spiritual power and resolve to persevere through every trial, heartache and temptation. The Holy Spirit enabled ability to “do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)

Hope 
”Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!“ (Psalm 43:5)

We can trust God with our futures. In truth, he is the ONLY one we can trust. On a very personal level, as I say goodbye to 2023, I can say with confidence that look towards this new year with hope, no matter what it brings. Not because of anything in myself, but because of who God is. It has been a tough year, seeing my husband continue to battle cancer. At times when I have thought “I just don’t know how to do this,” Psalm 43:5 has been a scripture that has put back into perspective my fears, weariness, anticipatory grief and sadness. When I just don’t know how to face the next  challenge, I have said, and with God’s enabling strength continue to say to myself “put your