Choose God – Keeping the Faith through trials, tough times, and temptation in the New Year
“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (NASB)
Happy New year 2022!
Are you are starting the new year with hopes and dreams for a better year than the last one? I know I am! Whether 2021 brought an unexpected illness, a possible divorce, a job loss, a betrayal, a sense of being disconnected from those around you, or a complete loss of identity in who you are, you can move beyond it and have a year that will bring you more joy and hope than ever before.
Yes, it’s possible!
When I was younger my first reaction to any kind of difficult season was to reach out to a trusted friend or my mom for advice, comfort, and safety. Solace can always be found in those we love and care about. We take comfort in their words and shared feelings.
But truly, that is not the first place we should go. Our first turn should always be to God. We should seek first His guidance and wisdom (Matthew 6:33). For when we are weak, His strength makes us strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
This is life in the material world. It requires a continuous and active choice to choose God first, to stay in the faith and say, “Forgive my weakness, Lord, I’m sorry I doubted.” To move ahead in hope rather than despair. It’s the constant battle of living out our faith.
Over the past month I found myself having to do this time and again. Unfortunately, I allowed temptation to influence my choices based on emotions, feelings, and fear. I had to constantly remind myself that God was not only with me and my family, but He was at the helm.
Of course, there are some who may not have experienced any trials or tough times. Please know it’s not a matter of if but when! That’s a certainty my brothers and sisters.
There is so much hope and promise ahead. Yet, we must ultimately know that if we are to remain faithful and obedient to Him, we must understand that the prayers we’ve already prayed will be answered if they align with God’s will. We do this by following the guidance of His son Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the good shepherd. When we invite him into our hearts, he showers us with his love, and he does not leave us. He stands beside us as we struggle, guiding our paths as we grow closer to God. We have nothing to fear (Psalm 23).
Living our faith is about placing our absolute trust in God around every aspect of our lives. I wish I could say I do this each and every time, but sadly I don’t. I succumb to temptation or fear, or sometimes even anger. I must actively and purposely choose it and walk in it every day.
As we start 2022 with all its unknown challenges for our personal lives, our nation, and our Christian faith, how do we “choose God” every day in both good times and tough times?
Here are five practices that have helped me:
- Stay in relationship with God through faith, seeking Him constantly. Hebrews 11:6 tells us “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
- Stay in the Word. As we read in Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Turning to scripture every day surrounds us with the very armor of God.
- Pray to Him with praise, petition, and expectation. Paul teaches us this in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 when he writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- Be obedient through our actions. Jesus tells his disciples “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We show our belief in God by demonstrating our obedience in how we act rather than simply what we say.
- Surrender to Him daily. James the brother of Jesus writes in his epistle “Submit thereto God”(James 4:7). When we surrender to God daily, the enemy has no place to take hold in our hearts.
We have a choice as we face the New Year: we can choose to place our trust in God or choose to listen to the voices of fear and doubt drawing us away from His promise. The choice we make will determine how we respond to God’s Will, to each other, and to the opportunities ahead of us!
May God always guide your path.