When the year ends in Sadness

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a year quite like this past one. What started with such mixed emotions as we prepared to leave our beloved church family and transition into full-time missions work among college students, will now end with the same feelings of loss coupled with anticipation as we close another (albeit short) chapter in our family’s story and look forward to turning the page into 2018. We enter the new year looking forward to the return of our family “home”. Back to our beloved Alma Mater.  But knowing we will dearly miss students and friends that we have loved deeply even during our short time in our current home.

So I’ve been pondering: how do we handle years that don’t go quite as planned? How do we look forward to the new year with joy, when the memories from this past year tend to draw tears instead of rejoicing? What do we do with the nagging questions of “why?” “Why that? Why us? Why now?”

Whatever your “why” question, I’m sure there are many with me this year saying, that is not how I expected this year to go. I know many who have endured very hard things this past year, and are probably more than happy to see the new year come.

As I reflected and prayed yesterday–seeking peace and comfort amidst the crazy, the Lord brought me to several chapters in Psalms.

“Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

….I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done:
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.”

So take heart, dear friends. If this year was harder than you expected it to be, if the Lord has brought you through a valley–the loss of a loved one, a child, a dream—we still have hope.

We meditate on all God has done. Remind ourselves of his infinite care and love. We keep moving forward with our hands stretched out. We might be ending this year longing and thirsty. Our soul might feel a little dusty and parched. But we take heart knowing who holds the water we are able to draw from. Living water that we may never truly thirst again. We trust Him for eyes to see his hand ever moving, ever working so that we might praise him even before the valley reveals its purpose. We give him glory before the darkness gives way to dawn.

Friends there is only One who will ever truly satisfy, even amidst heartache, pain and trials. We can come to him in joy this year, or in tears. He loves to rejoice when we rejoice, and comfort when we mourn.

2017 may have brought many things, but above all I pray that (as it did for us) it brought you closer to Jesus.

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