As every new year approaches, we start to analyze the past year. We want to fix what we didn’t like about the previous year and set tangible goals for a better you in the new year. I have a past of saying, “THIS is the year I am going to eat healthier and workout more frequently than I did last year.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When I don’t reach those goals, I feel bad about myself and may even spiral towards depression. When I do meet those goals, I feel better about myself, but not ultimately happy. Meeting a goal or checking something off a list can’t be what brings happiness in our life. So I started taking a new approach to these new years resolutions: asking God for one word that will speak life into this next year. This next season. This next chapter.
I started doing this two years ago. In 2014, the word He gave me was Sabbath. God wanted to teach me what true, deep rest looked like. What resting in Him really looks like, not resting in my circumstances. So I clung to that word. I clung to Jesus. I clung to Him when my husband was fighting in a war for a year while I was here alone. I clung to Him when my husband came home but our marriage felt like it was falling apart. I clung to Him when we finally got pregnant but immediately suffered a miscarriage. But God still gave me rest in the midst of it all. He taught me about Sabbath rest. He gave me rest, because He is good.
In 2015, the word He gave me was Hope. And again, He saw the year ahead of me and knew that was exactly what I needed. To learn to hope only in God. To learn that I can hope in God, no matter how rough life seems. He gave me Hope that He was going to restore a broken marriage and breathe new life, in ways I didn’t even dream would ever come. And He did. He then told me to Hope in a new career for my husband and a new life to come. So we started dreaming about what could be next. God released my husband from his life in the military and told him to get out and start moving towards something else. So we did. Then He told me to Hope in His perfect plan for starting a family. And while it was a hard year of infertility and unsuccessful IUI treatments, He has still given me Hope. He provided us with doctors and specialists who are doing everything they can to help us, He provided new friendships this year with couples who have walked the same journey or are currently walking through infertility and who can honestly understand what we are going through. That is Hope. Hope that God sees me right where I am. Hope for so much better to come someday. Hope because of a God who sacrificed it all so that I could live.
As we approach 2016, I have been praying and asking God for a new word for this new year. And He confirmed it to me: Joy. I was given the chance to lead our church in worship just a few weeks ago, and go figure, it was the week we light the Advent candle of Joy. God asked me to spill my guts that morning in front of hundreds of people to tell them about our infertility story. To share that even when life is hard, even when it doesn’t look the way we expect it to, God is the source of our joy. Pure joy. God has been holding my hand every single step of the way these last few years. God has seen my tears and cried with me in the pain. And yet because He is enough, because He is so much bigger than my pain, he so graciously gives me a heart that worships Him even in the trials. Even when I don’t know the outcome. He gives that joy to each one of us. A heart that can trust Him and be joyful because He is good.
So my New Year’s prayer is that I would live this next year focusing on that word He has given me. To live a year full of joy, not because of my circumstances, but in the midst of my circumstances. That it would be a contagious joy. That it would be a joy that points people right back to the Lord.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
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