A new year. A fresh start. Some of us really need that, right? For some of us reading this, 2018 tested the very limits of what we thought we could handle. It took us right up to the edge of our worst fears and even had the gumption to drag us a step further. It. Was. Hard. For others, 2018 was a year of restoration in ways you never thought were possible after the suffering you experienced in the past. In 2018, a lot of us lost “normal” or were somewhere out there trying to find a “new normal.” But here we all are, some more tattered than others, at the doorstep of a brand new year, a clean slate, whether we like it or not.
When I rang -- well actually, cried -- in the New Year of 2016, I remember thinking, blah blah resolutions and fresh starts and everyone all amped to have the “best year yet!” All I wanted was the past. I wanted 2011, the year I met JM, I wanted 2014, the year we got married, I wanted everything back pre-September 19, 2015. Could I make it my resolution to have my life back? But as the ball dropped, the clock stuck midnight, and people all over the world kissed their way into the new year, there I was on my couch, lips unkissed, and alone with nothing left to do but resolve that 2016 would be the year I kept going.
For those of you who have gone through suffering, you know sometimes the resolutions you make are simply the only choice you actually have to make … so, no, I was no stronger than you when I resolved to keep walking forward, I just knew it was simply the only real option. I could have mentally disallowed 2016 to come and lived in the shadow of September 19 forever, but I knew in my spirit that’s not at all what God called me to, as His child He wanted me to keep going, because even though I couldn’t see the future, He could, and He was prepared to resolve with me that we could keep going into the new year together.
And, like most resolutions, we get five days in -- one month if you are the most dedicated amongst us -- and we are exhausted. We start looking for all the excuses to just stay where and how we were the year before. I felt this pull too, even though I hated where I was at after losing my husband, it was still comfortable and predictable … wake up, cry, sleep, try to get life back together, fail, sleep, cry, repeat.
This is why we have to resolve with Christ, when He resolves something He brings it to fruition. Every. Single. Time. Don’t believe it, because you can’t see it or feel it? Look at Hebrews chapter 11. “By faith Abel…,” “By faith Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Sarah, and Jacob, and Moses…” The list goes on to name every biblical figure that even non-Christians know about. “By faith” they did what God called them to do. “By faith” they offered themselves, obeyed in the hard stuff, built a stinking ship in the desert (like come on?!).
“By faith” they left what was behind, their homes, THEIR NORMAL, and walked into foreign lands. Why? Because that is what God called of them. He even promised and resolved, if you trust Me at this new juncture, even though it is hard, and you cannot see how you can possibly move forward or this could possibly work out, you will be blessed, you will know Me more, and you will get what I promised you, life with Me in abundance.
Of course, there will be days when we look back and long to be in that old familiar world we used to call home. I am sure Abraham and Moses did too. I am sure at times it got really tiresome waiting for what was promised but had not yet come, especially since some didn’t even get to see the promised land with their earthly eyes. I like to think that on the days when Noah was tired of people thinking he was crazy and just wanted to be a regular guy again or when Sarah was celebrating yet another birthday without the present of a child, wishing she could be younger and maybe conceive a child, that they would take a minute to ponder on it all, life’s past pleasures and blessings, then wipe the tears from their faces and say like C.S. Lewis would later write:
“THERE ARE FAR, FAR BETTER THINGS AHEAD THAN ANY WE LEAVE BEHIND."
and then get back to the work of placing their faith in God! Of resolving to move forward.
When we go with God into the new year, we go with the promise that nothing will happen to us that God has not planned and that He cannot handle. Fellow sufferers, we know all too well that even though we go with God, we are not promised an easy road, but we are promised God’s presence. Like the Israelites following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as they escaped from Egypt, God’s presence will lead us in 2019. And although the path may not always be easy, we too will reach the true promised land, where suffering will be no more and each day will be more beautiful than the last. Here’s to seeing all that God will do in between, both in our lives and in others.