I am reminded every day by my own responses and emotions that I am far too reliant on my circumstances for my serenity and joy. I let trivial things derail my day. I allow thieves of expectation and entitlement to break in and take what is truly valuable. I exist when I should be living.

The recourse to my condition is not a Pollyanna, pasted-on smile, “everything will be all right” falsity. Things are not always all right. The world is a dangerous and difficult place, full of hurt and heartache and loss. Often, the seasons and events with the most capacity for joy also carry the most potential for damage, disappointment, and depression.

Brandon Flowers (lead singer for The Killers) wrote a song called “The Way It’s Always Been.” One verse is:

Ain’t that the way that it’s always been?

Laying low just long enough for the dust to settle down

The black and the white, the thick and the thin

And hoping that he’s really got the power to save us from these sins

Everybody sitting around waiting for the Son to come again

The song is a lament about things that are lost and the longing hope that someday things will be better. What the song misses is that we aren’t supposed to be sitting around waiting for the Son to come again. I don’t want to spend my life laying low, waiting, and hoping for conditions to change. I want the life I was promised when Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).

The world, with all its problems, is bent on stealing my joy, killing my hope, and destroying my capacity to live and love. The contrast I am promised as a Christ-follower is rich experience and true satisfaction. Joy.

As some of you know, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I am not capable of changing for a year; I am only capable of changing for a day. I find it necessary to recommit myself every day to what I know is already mine. If I express gratitude for all I am and all I have, then the Son comes every day. I have no way to change the past and no control over the future, but I can choose my response to this moment. I can choose to live and love and experience joy.

I pray that today will be full of joy for you. If you can find that, the rest of this new year will take care of itself.

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