The Beginning of a new year is the time for New Year’s resolutions. Recently a friend moaned, “No more New Year’s resolutions for me! I just break them, and it’s too discouraging.”

Of course we will break resolutions if they are any good. Good New Year’s resolutions, like any goals, always set forth ideals beyond us. “Hitch your wagon to a star” is still good advice. The Bible commands us to be perfect—like God. The purpose of good resolutions is to set before us neither unreasonable goals that destroy hope nor attainable goals that can be met with less than our best, but rather to give us ideal, yet reasonable goals that stretch us to our limit and beyond. Each new year presents a challenge to set such goals.

We grow only by setting goals that at first seem impossible. Faced with such goals, the pessimist quits: he gives up the struggle, for he sees no hope. H. G. Wells, once known as the world’s greatest optimist, ended his life in despair. From the depths of his gloom he wrote: “The writer is convinced that there is no way out or round or through the impasse. It is the end. Mind may be near the end of its tether.

“Our world of self-delusion will admit none of that. It will perish amidst its evasions and fatuities.… Mind near exhaustion still makes its final futile movement towards that way out or round or through the impasse.…

“There is no way out or round or through. Our universe is not merely bankrupt; there remains no dividend at all; it is not simply liquidated; it is going clean out of existence leaving not a wrack behind. The attempt to trace a pattern of any sort is absolutely futile.

“The human story has already come to ...

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