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Here’s to You, 2021!

2020 is almost over and probably most of us are excited about that notion. I am fairly confident this next year will be better, but not for the reasons you might think.

I think I have shared with you all this before but it is worth repeating that a change of circumstances only amounts to a small shift in measurable happiness. Science has been amassing a growing amount of data showing this to be true. It has a great deal more to do with your physiological makeup and your mental and emotional approach. I love what Dr Albert Ellis said years ago, “Too many people are unaware that it is not outer events or circumstances that will create happiness; rather, it is our perception of events and of ourselves that will create, or uncreate, positive emotions.”

I don’t think this is anything new to Christians, however. We have known and been told for centuries that circumstances are not what determine our happiness; God does. Psalm 144 tells us that “Happy (blessed) are the people whose God is the LORD!” We know and probably have experienced times where, by being in the presence of God or maybe just seriously meditating upon Him and His Word, we have been flooded with happiness. And hopefully each of us can point to someone in our lives who have lived this kind of happiness, and not just told us about it.

But we have to get rid of the worry, of the coveting, of the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. Jesus himself summed it up perfectly with these words in the gospel of Matthew:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life… Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” And later, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25, 33)

It seems clear that 2020 hasn’t been the problem. We have been the problem. I have grown spiritually lazy, fat, and weak. We have read the news too much and not read our Bibles enough. We have complained more than we’ve prayed. And now? I want to seek God more and strengthen my spiritual bones in order that I may be happy and at peace no matter the circumstances. Or like Dr. Ellis said elsewhere, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president.”

So here’s looking to you, 2021! It’s going to be a better year because I am going to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, not this one and not my own.