I was one of the hopefuls that started last year with a brand-new planner. 2020 was full of promise, and I thought I had some control over the direction of the year. I had a long planned/postponed trip to see my family slotted for early spring, some home improvement plans, a saving/financial plan, plans for family vacations, etc.
Ask God to help you set goals and arrive at the best plan for achieving them.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.—Psalm 37:23 NLT
People plan their path, but the Lord secures their steps. —Proverbs 16:9 CEB
Walking around my hometown in India where I grew up and have spent most of my life, I am intrigued by how much the city has changed over the years. What was once a small and laid-back city in the early ‘80s has exploded into a major technological hub and a thriving metropolis. Cinema halls we frequented as youngsters have been demolished to make way for shopping malls and office spaces, older buildings have been torn down to make way for new structures, and new flyovers have been constructed to ease the burgeoning traffic. The cozy city of bygone days has almost become unrecognizable.
As a child, I often heard the saying, “Prayer is not the least you can do, but the most you can do.” I thought that any situation could be solved with earnest prayer. When my dad told nine-year-old me that our family friend Jim was diagnosed with cancer, I decided that I was going to pray really hard for him to get better. Jim had a wife and three children in elementary school—surely God wouldn’t be so cruel as to remove him from so many people who were depending on him. Every day, I set aside 10 minutes to pray for Jim. At first, there were encouraging signs that my prayers were being heard. The tumor was getting smaller, and he was feeling stronger. My prayers were working!
If you’ve ever felt like your whole life has been uprooted and you have no idea how you’ll make it to the next day, take heart from the Turner’s Oak—a 16-meter-tall giant planted in 1798 and now thriving in the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens, just south of London. In the 1980s, it was sickly and looked like it might die. Then on the 16th of October, 1987, the Great Storm hit parts of the United Kingdom, France, and the Channel Islands. It may have been the worst storm to hit since 1703 and knocked over 15 million trees in the south of England in just one hour. Among its victims was the Turner’s Oak. The wind lifted the tree by its shallow root plate completely out of the ground, violently shook it, and then set it back down again like a giant hand lifting a wine glass up by its stem and then plopping it back on the table.
Who would have thought that I’d be writing an article on the topic of happiness and satisfaction after everything that we have been through this year due to the COVID-19 virus? After having experienced so much insecurity and uncertainty in the air, how could that be a time to think about happiness?
Thousands of pages have been written about the subject of stress, so I wonder if there’s really anything new I could possibly say to help someone who is struggling with it. Most likely not. I myself am still fighting that “beast” that tries to pull me down and take away my joy of living.
When you are troubled, when you are perplexed or confused, come to Me. Lay your head on My shoulder. Find your comfort in My eternal promises. Listen to the words that I will speak to your heart and mind. Find your strength and peace in Me.
Remember the time when I calmed the sea? My disciples were panicking and thought that they would certainly perish. But when they looked to Me for help, rather than looking at their circumstances, I came to their rescue in spite of the waves and the storm.1
I’d venture a guess that the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk isn’t very well known nowadays, but he sure knew what it meant to trust in God no matter how badly things were going: