On the way to church one morning, my sports-obsessed younger brother could not stop talking about the upcoming Sunday afternoon football games. Church was a one-hour drive for us, but, eventually, my dad told him, “Now, Andrew, let’s get our hearts and minds focused on Jesus instead of football.”
A few moments of silence passed as four-year-old Andrew contemplated this directive.
He then piped up, “Daddy, I bet Jesus could throw a football a million miles!”
Like my little brother, our hearts and minds are often fixated on things other than our Savior, and we need our Father to remind us to refocus on Him. Though we may try to adjust our gaze, our minds and hearts are still prone to wander to nearby distractions. But since all Scripture “is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, [and] for training in righteousness,” studying His Word is a great start in resetting and renewing our hearts and minds as we prepare to enter 2022 (2 Tim. 3:16). We need to practice prayer, openly praise Him, reframe our perspectives, know His promises, and embrace peace.
1. Practice Prayer (Phil. 4:6).
I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s anxiety has gone up in the past two years due to the lingering COVID pandemic.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
In 2022, we can reset our lives by daily practicing prayer. As we petition our requests to God, we do so with a heart of thankfulness and not an attitude of arrogant demanding.
2. Openly praise Him (Ps. 9:1).
Psalm 9:1 says, “I will thank the LORD with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous works.”
Praising God sounds like a simple enough task, but how often do we openly declare how good He is? While it is a good thing to thank God for the many blessings He gives us, it is also important to praise God for His good character as a holy and righteous God.
3. Reframe our perspectives (Gen. 16:13).
In Genesis 16, we find the story of Hagar, Sarai’s servant who was given by Sarai to Abram so that she could bear him a child. When Hagar conceived, she let her pride overtake her as she looked with contempt toward Sarai. Sarai’s anger caused her to mistreat Hagar, who then fled to the wilderness where the angel of the LORD (whom we understand to be the pre-incarnate Jesus) found her and spoke with her.
The angel of the LORD gave Hagar a promise that, although Ishmael would not be Abram’s promised heir, God would still multiply her offspring. He also told her to submit and repent.
Verse 13 says, “So she named the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are El-roi,’ for she said, ‘In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?’”
Although part of the promise was that Ishmael “will be like a wild donkey [and] his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him,” Hagar still rejoiced that God heard her and saw her (v. 12). She reframed her perspective and submitted to God’s perfect plan.
When we are broken, God sees us. Even when we are angry, God sees us. We can reframe our perspective to recognize that we are lowly and He is always in control.
The uncertainty of what the future holds has been a running theme throughout our past year. As James 4:14 says, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” We are fragile beings, and I think it’s safe to say this past year has reminded us of that truth.
But when we trust in Him, we are promised His Spirit. And His Spirit is not a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Tim. 1:7). Truly knowing this promise deep in our hearts allows us to move forward in the new year with confidence and boldness to trust in Him.
5. Embrace peace (Prov. 3:16-17).
According to Proverbs 2:6, the Lord gives true wisdom. In the next chapter, (Prov. 3:16-17), Solomon instructed his son on the benefits of wisdom. One of her greatest benefits is a long life marked by peace: “Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.”
Through Christ’s sacrifice, we have a unique gift—the promise of eternal peace. The wisest thing we can do is put our trust in the Prince of Peace, and that belief yields the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
Yearning for a future year marked by this tranquility and serenity, we can practically embrace peace by studying His Word and practicing gratitude. Reminding ourselves of God’s past provision, both in our own lives and throughout Scripture, is comforting as we enter a new year filled with possibilities.