Thursday, January 12, 2023

Embrace the New Year with Hope

By: Donna Bucher 

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

Psalm 116:7-8

 Praising God for new beginnings, my eye falls upon a fresh, new journal. Its stark pages beckon me come, linger, and adorn the barrenness with heart words, thought words, His words.

Embracing the New Year with hope begins with a retrospective glance, a final caress of the old year, a gentle release, and a reaching forward to grasp the hand of the New Year.


Some years I spend more time savoring, other years I move more quickly through my retrospection. But one thing remains constant: gratitude.


Whether the year held manifold blessings or many rough, dry wilderness walks, sitting quietly holding my year in review reveals hidden gems. Once I step back and view circumstances from a distance, God’s hand in my life becomes much clearer.


Even the hard places speak gratitude, for they remind me God’s hands held me, preserved me and refined me.


Tempting me with extending my retrospect, my sweet moments plead lingering, while the hard places solicit endless scrutiny. Yet, embracing the New Year with hope requires not only retrospect, but release.


Just as repeated handling of a delicate flower wilts and mars its beauty, so lingering too long with sweet moments from the past dims and alters their reality. Savoring even the best things in life provides the ultimate enjoyment when done for but a time and no more.


Likewise, standing in the hard places lures me into over-analyzation and endless questions driving the pain deeper still, in a macabre dance of hopelessness.


Combining thoughtful reflection with gentle, gratitude filled release brings peaceful closure to the old year, while positioning me in a hopeful stance eager to embrace the fullness of a new year.


Making space for fully acknowledging both the pleasurable and distressing aspects of the old year through the lens of gratitude reaps a harvest of hope.

A Retrospective view of the past reveals God’s steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness; pouring forth gratitude, resulting in gentle release.

Breathe the old year. Take a full, deep breath. Imagine breathing in all of the past year; briefly hold the breath, then slowly exhale.

Hold the memories. Welcome the memories coming to mind. Remain open to all memories without resistance. Remember God’s Presence with you now.

Feel the memories. Welcome all emotions to the table; feel the marvelous, wondrous, and joyful along with the disappointment, sorrow and regret.

Savor and Seek. Savor the beauty, joy, splendor of your retrospection. Seek God’s Presence, provision and promises along the rough paths.

Wrap in Gratitude. Wrap each circumstance in heart-felt gratitude. Feel the fullness of the year; praise God for all the year held for you.

Release. Through a series of deep breaths, release the fullness of the past year to God. Open your hands in your lap as a physical sign of complete release. Acknowledge His sovereign care for you both in the past year and the coming year.

Embrace hope. Eyes closed, imagine an unending field of pure, white snow before you. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the old year, gaze upon the pure beauty of a new beginning in the snow-covered field. In a closing prayer ask God to reveal a specific intention for the New Year.


Rather than recklessly bounding into a new year, one final journey through the old year with a keen eye towards God’s eternal faithfulness reframes everything with Hope.

Lingering in one last caress of the old year in God’s Presence reminds me of His faithfulness both in joy-filled times and those tinged with grief. Revealing Himself as the covenant keeping God of unfailing love and faithfulness, He adorns me with unshakable Hope as I stretch forth my hands, embracing the New Year.


How can you balance lingering with the sweet moments from 2022 with a quiet acceptance of God’s goodness in the hard moments?

As you look back over 2022, note God’s faithfulness especially along the hard paths, which you may have missed at the time but can see more clearly now.

Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!


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