I have a conflicted relationship with the New Year’s holiday. I’ve always loved that the new year gives us the permission to stop and reflect. It seems the whole world pauses to look back on what’s taken place in the last year. But this same season also asks us to look ahead. And “ahead” can be a scary place.
We don’t know what we will gain or lose in the year before us, and to me, that’s always been a scary thought to process. What will I experience? Will it be good or bad? Will it be painful or joyful? There will always be both highs and lows, but how high will they be and how low will they go?
In 2022, our family experienced a loss so deep, it’s still difficult to grasp. This past September, my dad went to be with the Lord. This time last year, I would’ve never guessed that’s what the future held. Had I known that 2022 would hold that kind of loss, you would’ve had to drag me into the future kicking and screaming.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in this journey of loss is to move forward “one day at a time.” It’s not groundbreaking wisdom. Jesus gave us advice on how to address the future in Matthew 6. “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” He said.
I read that passage while sitting alone in a hotel room across the street from the hospital where my dad was receiving treatment. As I read those words, the reminder was so timely. I realized how lightly I tend to take the words of Jesus. Somehow, I skim past the gospels and camp out in Paul’s letters. I give a cursory glance to the Sermon on Mount but frame an inspiring Psalm and hang it on my wall. However, if I’ve trusted Jesus with my soul, surely I can trust His words of advice on daily living as well.
So, what is Jesus’ prescription for handling what lies before us? Don’t look beyond today. Yes, it’s good to have goals for the new year and look ahead with prayerful optimism about what God will do in 2023. But do not give in to worry about what tomorrow will hold. God gives us THIS day. And, with His help, we can handle today. We can’t handle tomorrow or any knowledge about what we will face tomorrow. But we can do today.
One day at a time.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?...But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25–27, 33–34