Yesterday a friend asked me if I had made any New Year's resolutions. No, I haven't. Sure, as per the usual, I have a few books I plan to read but I consider those goals and not resolutions. I don't like the sound of "resolution". It's much too much of an "I resolve to do X" or "I resolve NOT to do Y" and I guess I have seen over the years how pathetic my own efforts have been in much of any endeavor. Maybe that's wrong. Maybe it means I'm a weenie. But it doesn't mean I don't want to change and to grow. The last thing I want is to find myself in January 2013 (given the Mayans weren't on to something....teehee) in the very place I am right now.
I am thankful that God promises not to leave us where we are. Over the course of this past year, this soul-stretching sashay through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I have been confronted again and again with a command I just can't seem to DO. I mean, I can do half of it. Romans 12:15 tells me to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." I really don't have any problem with mourning with those who mourn. In fact, it comes quite naturally to me. God has blessed me through the years with enough pain and sadness to be able to empathize with pretty much anything that ails you. Nothing surprises me. No amount of heartache or sin will throw me off. I have been laid low. Flat. Steamroller flat. And I will be there with you when you are as one with the pavement.
But to rejoice with those who rejoice? Now that's a horse of a different color. I do find it possible in certain situations to do just this. I will always rejoice, as the angels do in heaven, when a sinner repents, turning from his ways to God, his Creator. I will always rejoice with babies. Y'all know THAT. What I find so darn impossible is the rejoicing with others where I haven't been able to rejoice in my own life. To rejoice in another's success when I have failed. To rejoice in another's plenty when I am in need. To rejoice in another's fulfilling relationships when I am plagued with loneliness. THAT is what is so hard for me. THAT is where I need to change. THAT is where I need God to change me.
I think this gets into 10th commandment territory. Perhaps it is that I can't rejoice with another while at the same time coveting the gift in the first place. Repentance. Sigh.
I know quite well that no amount of resolving on my part will change me. That is the job of my Creator. "It is He that has made us and not we ourselves". (Psalm 100:3) Only the Holy Spirit can enable me to do that which comes SO unnaturally to me.
I am realizing that my difficulty with this rejoicing bit really all comes from not trusting God. Not really believing that He has His own special purposes for my life. Purposes that may very well include withholding from my life the very gifts he is bestowing on someone else. Rejoicing with those who rejoice must be anchored in a complete and comprehensive trust in the sovereignty of God in my own life. Only if I trust, beyond anything else, that God loves me beyond comprehension and has every hair on my head numbered and is working all things for my good and his glory in light of all eternity, can I with a fullness of heart, rejoice with those who rejoice.
This is my prayer for 2012.