“In 2024, I plan to . . .” Fill in the blank. Maybe you’re hoping to exercise more, eat healthier, start a new job, go on a big family trip, spend more time with your spouse, spend less time on your phone, finally finish that house project, read the Bible every day, join the church choir, make a friend, call your parents more, and so on.
One of my goals is that by the end of 2024, my toddler will be potty trained and my baby will be sleeping through the night. (A girl can dream, right?)
It’s good to plan and make goals for yourself and your family. But remember what Solomon says in Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” God’s Word here is reminding us of that pesky little word that I personally struggle to deal with: change.
Coping with Change
I consider myself a flexible, go-with-the-flow person—as long as everything goes exactly how I want it to. (And it seems I’ve passed that trait on to my children.) Both big and little changes can throw me for a loop and leave me scrambling to find my footing. Can you relate?
I felt like we were in a good routine with our firstborn, and then we had our second . . .
I miss our old life, our old community, our old church. This move has been so rough on me . . .
I had no idea this would be the last year with Mom. I can’t even picture my life without her in it. Will this grief ever feel less heavy?
Joyful changes, challenging changes, and heart-breaking changes all remind us that we are not in control of our own lives. Our ability to manage all the things will always fall short. And that is the whole point. When our best-laid plans completely fall apart, we realize how weak and sinful we are, and then the Holy Spirit drives us to the cross.
How God Uses Change
God’s Word encourages us when we’re dealing with life’s changes. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says,
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. . . . And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:26, 28)
These verses can easily be misinterpreted if we view them through a secular lens. In these verses, Paul is saying that when we are weak, when life’s changes overwhelm us, we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit, given to us by our Creator, who points us back to Jesus, where we see God’s steadfast love on full display.
Then we can trust that God will use all the changes of life to point others to Jesus and to keep us strong in saving faith until He calls us home to eternal life with Him. He will work all things together for our eternal good.
Pointing to Jesus amid Life’s Changes
As you look forward to what you hope 2024 might bring, think about all the ways those plans might change. Then pray that God would help you and your family deal with life’s changes with hope in Christ and trust in His unchanging love.
Here are a few changes your family might experience this year and some ideas on how to turn the focus back on Jesus.
When everyone at your house seems to be sick,
- read Matthew 8:17: “[Jesus] took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
- say, “Jesus heals us. He gives us doctors and medicine to help our bodies feel better. Best of all, because of Jesus, one day we will live in a new creation with no sickness!”
- write a prayer for healing on a tissue. When your family feels better, wave the tissue in the air and praise God!
When your child goes to preschool or kindergarten for the first time,
- read Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- say, “God never changes! He is going with you to your new school.”
- decorate a paper cross and put it in your child’s backpack to remind him or her that Jesus goes with him or her.
When a new change overwhelms you,
- read Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
- pray the Kyrie: “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”
- make a note on your phone of Bible verses that give you comfort.
Download the January Everyday Faith Calendar for daily Bible readings and prayer prompts to help you focus on God’s unchanging promises.