New Year, New Fears

While most people talk about new year goals and resolutions, very few ever talk about new year fears. Maybe the air that accompanies the new year is so thick with optimism that it allows no space for fears or worries, or maybe there are no fears at all. But I have goals and I have fears. I am optimistic and I have worries.

For me, every new year brings uncertainty, and 2020 is no different. Before me lies twelve unwrapped boxes containing the expected and the unexpected. The good and the bad. The victories and the defeats. The joys and the sorrows. And I’ll get to open these boxes one after the other, not knowing what to expect.

In past year, many of the same boxes brought much disappointment and sadness. Many of my plans failed before the first half of the year had gone by, so it’s not surprising that I enter the new year with troubling questions, worries and, yes, even fear.

There is the scary thought in my head that most of my plans will probably fail. I make plans all the time. At the start of a year. At the start of a month. At the start of a week. I can’t live without plans. But I have seen many of them fail that I have wondered in the past if they are even necessary. What’s the point of making plans if they fail?

And there’s the fear that comes with the thought of getting into the labor market and fighting (seriously fighting) to get a job. My one-year compulsory national service will end soon. Many of my seniors, folks who graduated years before me, are still job hunting, either because they are currently without jobs or with jobs that they do just to get by. The unemployment rate is Nigeria is amazingly high. And that makes me really uncomfortable.

And then there is the hanging question of what exactly it is that I am going to do with this life. Maybe this is not exactly a fear, but it’s definitely a serious concern. What am I called to do? I thought I already had the answer to this question, but activities in recent months have brought me back to the thinking table. So, I look at 2020 with thoughtful eyes and wonder if I’ll finally be able to figure out what to do with this life.

In the midst of all the questions and needless worrying, the words of Jesus to his disciples in Mark 4 had never sounded so true to me: He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” I was studying my Bible a few days back, and that curt reprimand jumped straight at me: Eleazar, have you still no faith?

The disciples had been with Jesus for a while and were supposed to know better. They had seen water turned to wine and the sick healed. They had walked with him and labored with him. But when the time came for them to trust him for their very survival, in the midst of a raging storm, it became clear that they had very little faith. In fact, in this instance, we’re told that they had no faith.

In many ways I’m like the disciples. I have seen him in his Word and in my life. I have been blessed by him. And I have told others of his faithfulness. I’ve spoken of his Providence and unchanging resolve to do his people good. But when it comes to the issues of my own life, the daily and simple matters, I often find myself having little faith. I often fall short of the very virtues and qualities I have admonished others to imbibe.

I really do need constant reminders as I go through life. God will take care of you. He will uphold you and strengthen you to fight life’s toughest battles. You can trust him. You can hold on to him. I easily forget these things. And I shouldn’t. Too easily do I fall into despair because I forget them.

But I thank God for his Word, and his constant reminders to me that my fears and worries, while being legitimate, are not necessary. I know I’ll be fine. God’s got me.

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