The countdown started weeks before New Year’s Eve. I heard it in conversations around me, on social media and even in books I was reading. Christmas was in the air, but for many a new year was even more promising than Emmanuel, God with us. A chance at a new beginning beckoned. The chance to say a final good-bye to a painful year coaxed people along.
I felt it too. In the final months of 2017, I heard the word “cancer” more times than I would want to hear it in an entire lifetime. Loved ones endured surgeries and countless hospital stays. Then, on Christmas morning my middle child woke up with the flu. He remained on the couch for days and our trip to see faraway family was cancelled.
I tried to remember these circumstances were temporary, but felt like a dark shadow was looming. The weight of it overwhelmed. One morning, God brought Psalm 51:12 to mind and I prayed it throughout the day on repeat.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12 NIV
Every time my thoughts went to a gloomy place, I recited it. And I realized something my downcast soul had forgotten.
Joy is something we have to pursue. It is a state of mind we must actively grab with both hands. It is not something that simply happens because of desire.
This light-bulb moment ignited something in me. I asked myself, “Is it possible to not only reclaim our joy in the New Year, but hold onto it when troubles come?” I believe it is. I know, deep in my bones, that it doesn’t take a new year to bring new beginnings. It doesn’t take a date on the calendar to reclaim the hope we somehow lost.
Here are seven ways to not only reclaim your joy this year, but hold onto it: