Want to SURVIVE or THRIVE in the New Year?

Alone. Ten-thirty p.m. New Year’s Eve.

The ballgame was over. My sleepy husband and daughter had called it a night, but I was wired up from the exciting game. As I scrolled channels looking for anything entertaining and waiting for the ball to drop, I felt sad.

Extroverted me would’ve loved sharing the evening with family. Friends. People. Any people. I was alone and mopey, feeling sorry for myself. As I sat there in the dim glow of the Christmas tree lights and TV screen I knew I should be happy and content, but I wasn’t.

I wasn’t terminally ill. I had a warm place to live, family, and friends. I was in relatively good health for some over the hill. Why couldn’t I be grateful? I knew so many people who had so many more struggles than I currently did: cancer, Covid19, broken marriages, addicted kids… For several it was their first Christmas without that child, spouse, or parent; death is a thief.

So why did my limping knees and my husband’s sciatic pain send me into an emotionally dark place? I don’t know, maybe I’m just a selfish greedy person. I should be able to put my woes into perspective.

Sitting there, tears blurring the TV screen, I desperately said to myself “What do I need to do to fix this? I need hope. But I need to trust God, too. And I need rest – real rest. My soul is weary.” As those words came out, I thought of those three particular words: Trust, Hope, and Rest. Yes! That’s what I need more of in 2022! The first letters of each word came to my attention: T… H… R… and the word THRive came to my mind. I knew in that moment THAT was my word for 2022 – thrive.

A few minutes later when the ball dropped, I was at a place of peace and able to doze off.

The next morning I got up pessimistically wondering what catastrophes this year might hold. I don’t like myself when I think that way. I really wanted to have a good day, and that required a good attitude which I didn’t have in the moment. So I set to my normal morning routine: coffee, Bible, journal – sip, read, listen, pray.

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I’m so grateful that godly people and the Father Himself have taught me the importance of spiritual habits. Bible reading, praying, journaling to listen, and scripture memory all used to be hit or miss activities in my Christian walk through life. I usually did them when I was needy, depressed or emotional, kind of as a bribe to get God to do something for me, I guess.

But after 40+ years of walking with God, He had convinced me to come say Good morning! to Him each (and every) morning no matter what I was feeling or had to do that day. At first it was hard to develop that habit. Laundry, computer work, or the network news shows vied for my attention first thing in the morning. But month by month over the years, I slowly came to see that having that relationship with Him, that routine of meeting with Him, during happy or mundane times would be a lifeline to me in my sad or tragic times.

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So New Year’s Day 2022 I set about my morning routine.

Our pastor encourages us to find a watchword and a scripture verse each year. Every year for the past five or six years I’ve known my word going into the new year. Father God has brought it to my attention in the last few weeks of the year, and I’ve been able to start off day one with a focus word and verse. Perhaps that was part of my gloominess the year, I had yet to receive a Word from the Lord and I felt… lost, adrift, sailing into the new year.

As I sipped my peppermint mocha coffee, I thought over the word I’d had dropped in my mind last night. I believed it was my word for the year, but I always pick a word that is found in scripture, and I doubted I’d find the word THRIVE in the Bible. So opening my Bible and journal, I started off a bit skeptical.

And guess what I found! It’s there! The word “thrive” is in God’s word in several places! Who knew?! It is translated as thrive, flourish, or prosper. But the idea behind it is to blossom, break forth, grow, increase, rise, grow fat, push forward, germinate, or bear fruit! Yes! That’s what I wanted for this year, to break out of the dark soil of depression and weariness and grow into a thriving, fruitful vine! A vine pleasing my Maker and bearing fruit that nourished other believers.

Ezekiel 17:24 is the verse God gave me. “Then all the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD. I bring down the tall tree, and make the low tree tall. I cause the green tree to wither and make the withered tree thrive. I, the LORD, have spoken and I will do it.’ ”

Though we may feel like a small, withered tree – the Lord will cause us to THRIVE – to Flourish! God has spoken good for His children in His Word and He will do it! He. Not I. I can’t make myself into a tall, thriving tree, but Father God can. I cannot fix my weary soul, but He, the LORD will do it. I can take joy in that. It doesn’t depend on my trying, fixing, or controlling. Whew!

So what is my part? Nothing and everything. Nothing. Nothing to manipulate or fret over or manage or worry about. But everything. Every single day I must come sit at His feet, read, pray and listen to Him, coming into a closer more intimate relationship that will sustain me through everything: the discouragement, heartache and fear. A relationship based on Trust in Him, Hope in Him, and Rest in Him. A relationship where I Thrive.

That is my prayer this year, for me and for you as well. May we not just survive another year, may we Thrive, germinate, break forth from the dark, and bear fruit.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” ~ Jesus

John 15:5

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