Like a lot of people, as each new year approaches, I try to reflect on the past year and set goals for the coming one. As I was about to do that this year, a friend sent me this quote by Joni Eareckson Tada: “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.” That quote was a big help to me, and here’s why.

When I applied it to past years, it rang true. They all involved uneasy steps into the unknown. For example, after my wife’s health took a sudden and severe downturn, a troop of doctors spent a couple of years trying to diagnose the problem. As it turned out, she has a combination of incurable but manageable conditions, and it’s taken several more years to find the most effective treatments. During that difficult time, all we could do was pray and take one step at a time. But that was all God needed from us. Thanks to Him and the good doctors He led us to, my wife is doing much better. It hasn’t been easy, but we can both now say without hesitation that the experience has been good for us. It’s deepened us, made us more thankful for all we have, and taught us to value each day. More than anything, I think, it’s increased our faith in God’s love and goodness.

With that as my frame of reference, the coming year doesn’t seem so daunting. The difficulties of the past are now only memories, but the good that came from them is a vital, emboldening force. “Think bigger,” it tells me. “You have nothing to fear. Take the next step. God is good—and He is with you!”