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Whether a new year is heralded by midnight fireworks and champagne or dollar store party hats and noisemakers, it’s most often accompanied by a wave of relief that the old year has ended and a new, clean slate has arrived. Hope begins to fill the space formerly occupied by weariness from the previous year’s disappointments. The anticipation and optimism of a new year drive us to set more ambitious resolutions, goals, and commitments. 

January 1st could make the best motivational speakers out of us all.

This will be the year!”

This will be the year I finally stick to my early morning workout routine. No longer will midnight snacks break through the newly-fortified barriers of my strong will and self-control. Every bad habit that has held me back will simply fall away. I’ll save more than I spend. Stress will be eradicated by my perfect balance of work and personal life. I even bet this will be the year God finally sends me my perfect future spouse.

Moreover, we tell ourselves that this will be the year that friends and family members miraculously follow through on all their commitments. No more last-minute cancellations. No more outbursts or arguing. They’ll finally start going to counseling or attending the program they’ve spent the last few years avoiding. Things will be different!

This will be the greatest year ever!”

Yet the realities and complexities of living in a fallen world still have a funny way of showing up every year, usually creeping in sometime between February and April. Maybe we fail to stick to our New Year’s resolutions or fall short of our goals sooner than expected. It’s also possible the people we love might fail to live up to the commitments they made to us.

New year. Same failure and disappointment.

The challenge for us Christ-followers lies not in avoiding failure but in how we respond when it comes. Will we be surprised, disheartened, or deterred? Or is there a better way?

In these moments of perceived failure, the Gospel can remind us how God displayed his love and kindness towards us by forgiving our sins and failures through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Scripture, we’re also shown that God’s kindness and patience are meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). As God’s image bearers, we are called to extend that same kindness, forgiveness, and patience to ourselves and others, particularly in times of failure (Ephesians 4:9).

So, what are some practical steps for responding to failed resolutions, goals, and commitments in the New Year?

Step 1: Repentance – Turning Towards Grace

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:40 (NIV)

Repentance is the bridge between recognizing our failures and stepping back onto the righteous path God has called us to walk. When we sincerely acknowledge how we fell short of God’s desire and our commitments, we can move from self-reflection to reflecting God’s character in a broken world. Instead of identifying ourselves by our failures and living under the burden of shame, we can stand back up, firm in our identity in Christ.

As we accept that Jesus forgave us, we can also forgive ourselves and seek forgiveness from those we’ve unintentionally hurt. This transformative turning point helps us to move forward after our failures without quitting or succumbing to the hopelessness of another disappointment.

Step 2: Reevaluation – Discerning God’s Will

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

Whenever I find myself failing to reach goals or holding true to my commitments in my spiritual walk, I like to ask myself several questions:

  • How does pursuing this goal contribute to my pursuit of Jesus Christ?
  • Am I relying on myself more than God in fulfilling my commitments?
  • Have I been trying to jump seasons ahead when I should be taking it one day at a time?
  • Did I set unrealistic expectations for myself or others?
  • Can my goals be broken down into smaller, more achievable steps?
  • Do I have the support and accountability I need?

Seeking God’s wisdom and aiming to align with his will provides the compass for reevaluating our goals. Where do these goals lead? What’s working? What could be done differently? Understanding our limits and breaking down larger goals into smaller, more achievable steps can help us acknowledge and lean into our reliance on God’s strength and guidance.

Step 3: Recommitment – Choosing Perseverance

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

If I were to paraphrase and almost entirely decontextualize/butcher my favorite quote from the Rocky movies, I’d say, “It’s not about how quickly you can succeed. It’s about how quickly you can get back up after failing. Learn. And keep moving toward Christ, even if the way is slow.”

As we embrace God’s forgiveness, we can move at the pace of His patience, understanding that the process of repentance and sanctification isn’t completed overnight (2 Peter 3:9). In fact, it may even take more than a single new year. Committing to endure the hard work of becoming who God created you to be, in the trials and sufferings of failure, produces perseverance (James 1:2-4) and gives us a hope that does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-4).

So when facing setbacks in the new year, remember that God’s forgiveness of our sins and failures creates opportunities for repentance, reevaluation, and recommitment – leading to life transformation that outlasts any New Year’s Resolution.

Authored by By Dan O’Toole

Visit to learn more about the ministry of Grace, find a local campus near you, and take your next step toward Christ.

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