(This year, I am returning to an old practice of choosing a passage of Scripture to memorize and meditate on throughout each month. And I’m inviting you along for the journey, beginning today with my January Verse of the Month.)

It was two days after Christmas and time to take down the decorations. I placed the last of our seasonal figurines into their storage bin, then braced myself as I lowered the lid, certain that it wouldn’t fit. I was wrong: the rubbermaid container easily held all of its designated decor items, with room to spare. . . .

Since un-decorating had kept us busy all morning, I was late in getting the twins down for their second nap and almost scrapped naptime altogether, sure the babies wouldn’t go down; but they did, and slept soundly for over two hours. . . .

That evening, I was reading over a soon-to-be-published blog post, preemptively cringing at the inevitable grammar errors and misspellings I knew would need fixing. They weren’t there: the post was as cleaned up as it needed to be, no nitpicking required. . . .

As I crawled into bed that night, I pondered the events of the day and marveled at all that had gone well. I was amazed at how I’d managed to sidestep so many potential mishaps. And then, as I reflected further, I became surprised by my own incredulity over the day’s smoothness. Why should a good day come as such a shock? When had I become so convinced that life needs to be hard, that everything that can go wrong will?

I’ve been sitting with those questions since Christmas, and I have been troubled by what they say about my gut-level response to life. More and more, I have been noticing how my default expectations are set to NEGATIVE. Pessimism pervades my every moment, and I have acclimated to life with a glass-half-empty mentality, cautiously wading through life’s treacherous waters, holding my breath in preparation for the deadly swells I’m sure are threatening to overpower me.

This is not a healthy mindset. There is power in expectation, and when I squander my time anticipating failure and hardship, I’m certain to find them—regardless of whether or not they are there. Even when my negativity is warranted, this pessimistic posturing speaks to a lack of faith and a failure to trust in God’s goodness and His provision.

It’s hard to experience God’s good gifts when I’m preoccupied by a fear that His gifts won’t always be there, or that God Himself won’t always be good. But the opposite is also true: when I shift my gaze to God and His goodness, I can’t help but feel optimism and hope.

Last year’s Bible reading plan had me in Revelation in the final week of December, and I loved spending the waning days of 2020 focusing on the promise of Heaven and an eternity in the presence of God. This verse from Revelation 4 particularly spoke to me. In this chapter, John has painted a celestial scene where a collection of heavenly beings sings endless praises to the Lord Our God. Their words remind me of God’s infinite goodness, and their act of worship is an example of how I want to live my life.

Of course, life isn’t always easy. It doesn’t always feel good, things don’t always go smoothly, and hardships are an unavoidable part of life within our broken world. But even when I’m feeling the weight of life’s burdens, this verse points me back to author of all that is good. He is worthy of all glory, honor, and power. He deserves my worship, my trust, and eyes that are open to the GOOD He has in store for me.

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