Just weeks into a new year, there is both excitement and uncertainty about all the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead. One thing that can help us navigate this journey with confidence and peace is faith in God.

Faith in God means trusting that there is more than we can see, or even understand fully. Faith is trusting in God’s goodness, wisdom, and plan for our lives. It means believing that God is always with us, even in the difficult times, and that God has a purpose for everything that happens to us.

But faith in God doesn’t mean we will never face challenges or struggle with doubt. In fact, it is often in the midst of these struggles that our faith is tested. But it is a choice. We can let our difficulties and adversities make us bitter and angry. Or we can choose to challenge ourselves to look even harder to recognize God’s presence and activity in our lives and our world. 

Among the many ways to increase our ability to see God at work for good, in the world and in us, is to devote time to being with God, studying Holy Scripture, and seeking guidance from others who have a strong faith. Some call these practices acts of piety.

Another way to journey through the new year with faith in God is to engage in acts of mercy. These are active and intentional choices to find ways to serve and love others. 

Focusing on helping others can help us put our own problems and worries into perspective and find meaning and purpose in life. It can also help us develop a deeper sense of compassion and empathy, leading to a more fulfilling and joyful life. 

Both acts of piety and acts of mercy are enhanced by surrounding ourselves with other people who have a strong faith in God. Whether it’s through a church community, a small group, or simply a few close friends, having people in our lives who can encourage and support us in our faith can be a great source of strength and encouragement.

The New Year is just starting, and there is much uncertainty ahead and likely no shortage of both joy and heartache. Yet trusting that God is with us, will never leave us, and choosing to draw closer to God and God’s people can enable us to navigate the ups and downs of life. May it be so for all of us in 2023.

Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.