While resolutions don’t seem to be the answer for most of us, I do believe that as the New Year begins, we have an opportunity to take stock of the past year and ask ourselves what we’d like to see happen in our lives as we face this new year of 2022. So, I suggest you choose one word that you will focus on throughout the year. One word that says what you want God to do for you this year. One word that indicates an attitude and a commitment you’re willing to take on with God’s help. Just one word—and then you put that word all around you, you pray about it everyday, you find Scripture that reinforces that one word, and you ask God to change you in 2022.
One of the first words I chose when I began this habit was wisdom. I was facing a new challenge in ministry, as we undertook to open a home for women who experienced sexual exploitation, and I knew that I was in over my head. I desperately needed wisdom. Well, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” So, I prayed that verse into my life almost everyday, and God did indeed answer my prayers. Another year my one word was discernment, which is a little different from wisdom. I knew I needed to be able to discern God’s will and his voice in my life more clearly, and not be deceived by lies from the enemy. And that was very helpful.
I am now convinced that choosing one word to focus on for a year really gives God the opportunity to make some needed changes in us, to truly learn to seek God for what we need. So, I want to suggest that it could make a huge difference in your life, too. And if you don’t immediately know what one word to choose, let me suggest the one for 2022, and that is thankfulness. Paul wrote to the Colossians:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).
Overflowing with thankfulness—that should be true of us if we have received Christ Jesus as our Lord and are continuing to grow in our faith. In other words, thankfulness is supposed to be a trademark of a Christian.
Now, ask yourself this question: Would people who know you well—who are around you often and see you in real-life environments regularly—would they describe you as a thankful person? Do you overflow with thankfulness? If something is overflowing, people would notice, don’t you think?
Just suppose you determine to make thankfulness the theme of your life in this new year. Just suppose that you are willing to put away the negative thoughts and the complaining spirit, and overflow with thankfulness throughout the year? How would that make 2022 different from 2021?
This is a characteristic I’ve been trying to cultivate more and more in my life because I want to be thankful for all my many, many blessings. But also because being thankful is a major stress buster! I’m not kidding; one of the best things you can do to reduce your stress, lower your blood pressure, and lengthen your life is to practice thankfulness.
Notice I said, “practice thankfulness.” You see, it’s really easy to get caught up in complaining because that’s what we hear around us quite often. We’ve come through two of the toughest years most of us have faced and our lives have been turned upside down in many ways. So, complaining and worrying and fear have found their way into our minds quite often, isn’t that true? You hear words of hopelessness and complaining a lot, where you work and elsewhere. Well, you might have been caught up in that complaint mode without realizing it. So, you need to practice thankfulness.
Here are some suggestions to help you do that.
- Put a sign on your desk or your screen saver or your refrigerator that says: “My one word for 2022: Thankfulness.” I think we just sometimes need simple reminders. It sure wouldn’t hurt. In fact, we’ve prepared a reminder like this that you can use, if you like.
- Put on thankfulness each morning before you leave home. While you’re buttoning your shirt or putting on your shoes, just make a little ritual each day of saying, “And I’m also putting on thankfulness to wear all day today.”
- Do the thankful alphabet. Start with A and go through Z, naming something starting with each letter for which you are thankful. You can have some fun with this; it’s a great game to play in the car with your kids and you’ll be teaching them to practice thankfulness.
- Make every Tuesday a Thankful Tuesday or each Thursday a Thankful Thursday. You can share this with your family or your co-workers and have some fun with it, but it will teach the joy of practicing thankfulness.
- Sing songs of thanksgiving. The Bible says to sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
- Begin every prayer time with thanksgiving. Psalm 100 tells us to enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise. Whenever you enter into the presence of God, always enter with thanksgiving. Make the first words out of your mouth words of thankfulness.
I have found that this changes my prayer time. If I begin with all my needs and requests, I am self-focused. If I begin with thanksgiving—reciting some of the many things I have to be thankful for—I am God-focused. What a difference that makes in my time spent with God, and that in turn makes a difference in my day.
If you look at the sacrifices that are a part of the Mosaic law given by God, you’ll discover that there were many sacrifices of thanksgiving. This was a ritual God put in place to remind his people that they were to be thankful people. We’re no longer under the law, but we still need to be reminded to be thankful.
Have you ever thought about the power that is released when you become a thankful person? Let me tell you some of the great things that will happen:
- People will like you much better. Thankful people are nice to be around. Your relationships will improve. You’ll have more friends.
- Your energy level will go up. It’s true, because when you’re thankful, you unleash a lot of good energy that is often wasted on complaining and negativism. You will do more work in less time. And that’s going to make you a better employee, which will make your boss happy! I won’t go so far as to say you’ll get a raise, but then again—who knows?
- Your stress will go down. I’m not making this up! When you are thankful, you are thinking about the good things in your life, and that keeps you from focusing on the negative things. It’s like a release valve on a pressure cooker—you will see your stress go down.
- Your face will be prettier—or more handsome, whichever you prefer! Think about it—when you are thankful, you’re not worried or fretting, and those things cause lines in our faces and age us! You’ll look younger!
- Your posture will improve. When you’re thankful, you stand up straighter. When you’re negative, your shoulders tend to stoop and your back curves.
There’s power in thankfulness. You have much to gain. But way above and beyond all of these, here’s the most important reason to be thankful:
- You will honor and glorify Jesus Christ as he deserves. When you overflow with thankfulness, you tell the world what Jesus has done for you and you are a good ambassador for him. Not to mention, it pleases him to see your thankful heart.
That’s why I’m urging you to adopt this one word as your word for 2022: Thankfulness. Focus on it all year; pray it into your life; remind yourself every day to be thankful.
Are you up for this challenge—to make thankfulness your one word for 2022? If so, we have prepared a sign that you can put where you’ll see it often—a sign that says, “My one word for 2022: Thankfulness.”
If it’s going to be your one word this year, you’re going to need reminders around you all the time. So, I want to help you start this new year with a very thankful heart.
David prayed, “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Thankfulness will create in you a new spirit—a new heart. It is transformational, truly. So, I hope you will take my challenge for this one word for 2022. It certainly can do you no harm—and it could make some significant changes for the better for you.