cheerfully (adv): in good spirits, dispelling gloom or worry 

  expectant (adj): eagerly awaiting something 

“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” Romans 12:11-12

A new year begins. We look ahead and feel a mixture of hope and fear.

Some of us will enter in to a new decade this year. Some will begin new life-stage of starting a family, working full-time, retiring, empty-nesting, or launching a new business or ministry. Some will be navigating a new parenting phase like the beginning of preschool, the world of select sports, teenage driving, dating, or college. Some of us will be experiencing a move into a new home, job, relationship, travel adventure, or financial situation. The changes in our lives can be exciting, yet they can feel awfully daunting when we don’t have something solid to hold onto.

Denial tends to be my first response when I anticipate changes ahead. This short-lived denial is followed by the realization that change is happening whether I want it to or not.

So I panic.

But I’m learning that God has a better idea. (He always does). He reminds us that we don’t have to go into these changes and challenges with fear.

We can move through this life being cheerfully expectant.  Because we belong to Jesus, we are assured of all his promises, his presence, and his good. We can hold on to him whether the changes are expected or not, difficult or smooth, rewarding or disappointing. We can dispel gloom and worry rather than spread it around.

That sounds so much better. Because we all know that life doesn’t usually go the way we hope it does. Too often, change comes with loss and heartache and stress. I don’t think Jesus expects us to just smile our way through it and act like everything is fine.

But he does want us to have hope–an eternal perspective–as we hold onto him. He reminds us to “keep fueled and aflame,” to “be alert” and “pray all the harder,” because we have something we are eagerly awaiting that others desperately need.

And he gives us hundreds of promises to hold onto, including this one:

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33

Invite Him In: Ask Jesus to help you through the changes and uncertainties of your life, to reassure you that he is right here with you, and to remind you that he has overcome the evil in this world. He will walk into new situations with you, he will calm your fears, and he will bring beauty and good and hope. Let’s choose a promise to hold onto, keep fueled and aflame, and pray all the harder as we look forward with cheerful expectation to what he is going to do.