So, it’s 2023. Happy New Year! What emotion does that bring up for you? Excitement, fresh hope, and energy for the new year? Or dread that since the last one wasn’t so good, what happens if this one is the same?
Redeeming the previous year
The word for 2022 was ‘perma-crisis’ when multiple crises exist at the same time continuously. For many of us, the covid-19 pandemic, isolation and the increased stories of crises worldwide took everything in us to keep it together. Gideon Heugh talks about the need to find ‘hope in a burning world’ when we think of the climate crisis and continuously bleak news.
Some of us might want to forget 2022, choosing to put our best foot forward for 2023. However, the unfortunate reality is that as Der Kolk says in Our Body Keeps the Score, our body and mind remember the pain and discouragement.
So although it may be painful, give God the previous year and ask Him to breathe over it again. Ask Him to redeem areas of your life (and/or the world) where you feel pain and brokenness. You don’t have to do this alone – choose a close friend or even your church family, especially if it feels too much to do by yourself!
Pray these verses from Lamentations 3:55-60: ‘You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!‘.
God is near.
I am not going to give you specific goals or practical actions to be voted ‘the best justice warrior of 2023’. We have brilliant articles focusing on that in our magazine; feel free to read them here.
As my starting words for 2023, I want to remind you that in Philippians 4:5-7, when it talks about bringing all of our requests to God, it starts with ‘God is near’.
‘The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’.
In everything that happens this year, the highs and lows, the restoration and brokenness, the hope and lament, say to yourself again and again ‘God is near’.
Rebuilding for 2023
Okay, maybe I’ll give you one practical suggestion. It starts by sitting with God. Find your journal or the way you like to spend time with God. Ask Him for a word for the year. If you’ve never done this before, see Hannah Brencher’s thoughts on picking a word for the year.
If you’re unsure what word to have, feel free to share mine about it being a ‘Year of Rebuilding’. We know God is a God of promises and His words are true. Even if they don’t match our current situation, we know His word will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11).
When we declare these verses of redemption, let’s be confident that God hears them and answers them as a Good Father would.
Amos 5:24 says, ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’
Psalm 107:2 says, ‘Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,’
Psalm 130:7 says, ‘Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love, and with him is full redemption.’