As I’ve done since 2014, I began 2023 by asking God to give me a word and a verse for the year. It was a new concept to me then. This is the definition I found: “One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.”
What in me needs work? Where do I need to focus spiritually? What is God working on in my heart and life? As a Christian I open my heart to listen well to God’s voice.
Perhaps you would benefit as I do from asking God to show you what he’s laying on your heart this year.
My word for 2023 is peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27).
The opposite of peace in the verse is “distressed” that means “1a) to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, disturb his equanimity 1b) to disquiet, make restless 1c) to stir up 1d) to trouble 1d1) to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread 1e) to render anxious or distressed 1f) to perplex the mind of one by suggesting scruples or doubts.”
In a culture where political leaders stoke fear and hatred and believers exhibit lack of love and kindness, and in a world where unrest and violence grow, “distressed” perfectly describes what I feel day after day. And it’s a sign that I’m focusing on the situations and circumstances rather than trusting God with all of my concerns.
When Jesus says that he gives peace, he refers to the Hebrew idea of shalom, a state beyond mere absence of war but a richness of harmony and wholeness. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, so finding it requires abiding in Christ and allowing him to give me peace as I trust him, not focusing on peace itself.
Your word and verse will reflect what God is doing in your own life, just as mine reflects my need to trust in God with situations that disturb me.
How is God speaking to you about how you are to be or how you are to live?
- Strong’s: 5015. ↑