Activated - - NEWS - By Peter Am­s­ter­dam, adapted Peter Am­s­ter­dam and his wife, Maria Fon­taine, are di­rec­tors of the Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional, a Chris­tian community of faith.

When I come to the end of one year and am on the cusp of the next, I’m gen­er­ally op­ti­mistic about what’s ahead. I like to re­joice in the vic­to­ries of the past year, the progress made, the chal­lenges over­come, and the joy ex­pe­ri­enced. I also try to set in the past those things which didn’t come to fruition—fail­ures, un­reached goals, un­met ex­pec­ta­tions—and start the new year with de­ter­mi­na­tion to do bet­ter, work smarter, progress more, and reach my goals.

Stand­ing on the thresh­old of the new year, I’m ex­cited about what’s ahead. At the same time, I have a feel­ing of fore­bod­ing. The op­ti­mism I feel re­gard­ing po­ten­tial and op­por­tu­ni­ties causes me to look for­ward to what God has in store. At the same time, cau­tion about de­vel­op­ments in

the world lingers in the back­ground. I’m try­ing to rec­on­cile these clash­ing op­po­sites of op­ti­mism and pes­simism about the new year.

Each of us can take ac­tion to­ward pur­su­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be avail­able to us as in­di­vid­u­als in the new year. Af­ter all, the re­sults will be based at least partly on the goals we set, our choices, the ef­fort we put in, our prayers, and seek­ing God’s will. World events, on the other hand, aren’t some­thing we per­son­ally have con­trol over. Our hu­man ten­dency is to fear, and in that fear, to be­come more con­cerned about our­selves and our own community or na­tion. This can re­sult in a rise of na­tion­al­ism, in­tol­er­ance, and ha­tred, which are in di­rect op­po­si­tion to the teach­ings of Je­sus.

How to rec­on­cile these two out­looks to find a bal­anced per­spec­tive? In pon­der­ing this is­sue, I made some per­sonal com­mit­ments go­ing into the new year.

Re­gard­ing pes­simism due to the state of the world:

To not suc­cumb to fear. It’s im­por­tant to face the trou­bles of this world with faith in God. While there are atroc­i­ties, in­jus­tices, and many sad and ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tions through­out the world, as Chris­tians we are meant to put our trust in God and have His peace in our hearts, no mat­ter what sit­u­a­tions we and oth­ers face.

To not let the sad state of the world, and reg­u­larly hear­ing about it via the me­dia, cause me to fo­cus pri­mar­ily on the neg­a­tive. There is much evil in our world, but there is much good as well, and I’m com­mit­ting to re­mind my­self of the good, to fix my thoughts on what is true, and hon­or­able, and right, and pure, and lovely, and ad­mirable. “Think

1. Philip­pi­ans 4:8 NLT

about things that are ex­cel­lent and wor­thy of praise.”

1 To fo­cus on what Je­sus taught—to love our neigh­bors in gen­eral. While those who com­mit wrong de­serve ret­ri­bu­tion and jus­tice, our at­ti­tude to­ward them should not be one of re­venge and ha­tred.

To pray for those in power. For their wis­dom in deal­ing with volatile sit­u­a­tions, and for them to be mo­ti­vated by truth and jus­tice over na­tional or per­sonal pride.

Op­ti­misti­cally, there is of course much to praise God for in this past year, and also much to look for­ward to in the new year.

Each of us can look ahead to our per­sonal fu­ture with op­ti­mism, know­ing that the God of the uni­verse loves us in­di­vid­u­ally and is per­son­ally in­volved in our lives. As we pray about the up­com­ing year and seek Him for guid­ance and help, He can guide us in our de­ci­sions and di­rect us to­ward paths that will help us achieve goals that are in align­ment with His will.

I find it worth­while to seek Him at this time of the year about what goals He may want me to work to­ward, be they spir­i­tual or prac­ti­cal. It’s up­lift­ing and faith-build­ing to know that my goals co­in­cide with His over­all plan for my life.

Some ar­eas of per­sonal growth that I plan to fo­cus on in the year ahead in­clude:

Giv­ing more at­ten­tion to spir­i­tual growth. Spir­i­tual growth is im­por­tant to me, and I know that it takes in­ten­tion­al­ity to grow spir­i­tu­ally.

In­vest­ing in my friend­ships. Friends are an im­por­tant part of life, but it’s so easy to take them for granted. I plan to put more time and ef­fort into strength­en­ing these re­la­tion­ships.

Min­i­miz­ing stress. I’m pray­ing about and seek­ing ways to avoid stress, rather than merely work­ing through it when in a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion.

Do­ing what I can to bring those around me closer to God. There are some won­der­ful peo­ple in my life who un­for­tu­nately have strong prej­u­dices against Je­sus. I’m pray­ing for the wis­dom, pa­tience, and love to help them come to know Him.

I also pray that as you en­ter this new year, you will do so with a sense of pur­pose and di­rec­tion. That you will take time to re­ceive God’s guid­ance for the com­ing year, and that as you work to­ward your goals, you will find joy and sat­is­fac­tion.

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