Out of curiosity, I researched a few studies about New Year resolutions to see how many of us actually stick to our guns. The findings, while unsurprising, are pretty pathetic. Results vary, of course, but roughly a third of us can’t even make it through January before tapping out; half to two-thirds bail by Easter; and less than 20% (some studies said less than 10%) follow through completely on the resolution.
That may sound a bit depressing, but it does serve as a reality check for each of us. We set goals in order to challenge ourselves. If it was easy, then we might have already done whatever it is we are resolving to do! The fact is, we will face hard times that try to derail our plans (and not just New Year resolutions). Oftentimes the roadblocks are our own fault, but sometimes life throws us a curveball, like Ecclesiastes 9:12 (NIV) says, “… people are trapped by hard times that come when they don’t expect them.”
How do we manage those unexpected hard times? How do we overcome in the face of obstacles? I love this line from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, Warner Bros.): when negative circumstances caused people to doubt themselves (and each other), Albus Dumbledore responded, “Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Such decisions are seldom a cinch, but the journey – and the final result – is worth the effort.
Consider these encouraging words from 2 Corinthians 6:4b (NIV) about having a godly perspective during tough times: “We serve [God] by holding steady. We stand firm in all kinds of trouble, hard times and suffering.” Again, in 2 Timothy 4:5, Hebrews 12:7, and James 1:12, we read that our perseverance through difficult times honors the Lord. Whether the challenge you face is simply sticking to a New Year resolution, or if you encounter trials of a different variety this year, let God teach and grow you through the experience.