You started last year with a tankful of gas — overflowing with energy, motivation, joy, and optimism. Twelve months on, you were empty, running on fumes, joyless, and dreading the new year. You wonder if you can even go another day, far less another year. Three questions are on your mind:

What went wrong?
How can I get refueled for this year?
How do I make this year different than last year?

You may have had no control over some of the life events that drained you dry last year. Your gas tank was punctured by holes not of your own making: the loss of health, of a loved one, of a job, of your marriage, of a friendship, or of a dream. For many of us, though, our emptiness is of our own making. Either we forgot to keep refueling with God’s word and grace, thinking we can live by our own wisdom and strength, or we put multiple holes in our own tanks through our own choices.

What Went Wrong?

What choices puncture the gas tanks of our souls? Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to counsel many Christians whose gas tanks looked more like sieves. They had holed themselves repeatedly by their own lifestyle choices. These were not caused by life events they had no control over, but were the result of their own free decisions. The most common decisions that caused the most damage were sinful habits (especially pornography), excessive working hours, sleep deprivation, refusal of God’s gift of a weekly Sabbath, and technology addiction. Often they came as a package.

Whether you were drained by holes that resulted from events outside your control or by those you made yourself, the question is the same, How can I refuel, and regain the joy I lost? Before we try to refuel, we must at least attempt to repair the holes we made ourselves. There’s no point in putting premium joy-fuel into our tanks if it’s just going to run out unrepaired holes.

We can’t deny the laws of gravity or of our humanity. We cannot flourish if we continue in sinful habits, or if we fail to wisely steward our bodies, minds, emotions, and relationships for God’s glory. Start welding these self-inflicted gashes with repentance for sin, with reduced working hours, with increased sleep, with a weekly Sabbath, and with a digital detox.

How Can I Refuel?

Assuming that repair work has begun, let’s now focus on the joy-fuel that God has provided to reenergize us for the new year.

Read the rest of this article at the Desiring God website.