I don’t know if I have ever been so thankful to say goodbye to a year.
The last few years of our lives have been full of trials. Four years ago, we were newly pregnant with a child whom I miscarried soon therafter. Three years ago, I was on bed rest, just five months pregnant with our second son Micah who was later born prematurely. Two years ago, we were in the middle of building a new home while our old home sat unsold on the market. One year ago, we were just home from the hospital after our youngest son was born two months early.
We groan and are burdened. 2 Corinthians 5:4
As I look for words to describe our year, I cannot think of anything that more fully captures the heaviness of this season. Though it was a blessing to finally be together as a family, the first few months of last year were difficult. Recovering from being pregnant four times in as many years was exhausting. Our children were struggling with the stress our family had been through. Although Mark and I had survived the months of bed rest and hospitalization with Zephan, the fear, worry and grief hit us like a truck after everything was supposed to be back to normal.
As the spring arrived, we began to feel more alive. I began to train for my first triathlon and Mark began cycling to work. We were regaining strength and energy. Asher, Micah and Zephan were growing in many ways. After a sweet family vacation in Hawaii, we felt refreshed and exited about the future.
Over the summer, however, the burden returned. Although I cannot get into the specifics online, we went through a situation where some people whom we had considered friends became harsh and judgmental about our family. They lied about our character and wrongly accused us of sin. We discovered that many people in our lives had been gossiping about us. For a season, we were more or less kicked out of Christian community. We felt broken and isolated. We were angry and confused too.
As we went into the fall, it seemed like everything around us was broken. People we loved were hurting and lost. I was struck as never before by the weight of poverty, injustice and sin in the world. I grieved as I watched four friends bury their babies. I cried as I read about AIDS in Africa and as I looked at the faces of children orphaned by poverty and disease. I felt numb as I watched previously happy marriages end in divorce. I wept as I felt so alone in the midst of this, wondering why God’s people were so busy trying to look good while children were dying and marriages were falling apart and people were lost…
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:1
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 16-18
Do you need these words as much as I do?
God’s promises are clear. God is a compassionate Father who comforts his children. God is merciful. We are not crushed, in despair, abandoned or destroyed. No matter our outward circumstances, we do not lose heart. As heavy as life feels, glory weighs more. What we can see is temporary, but God is eternal.
This has been a hard year. My life has truly felt heavy, but glory weighs more. My light and momentary troubles are acheiving for me an eternal glory that outweighs them all.
Friends and family, as I say goodbye to 2009, I want to leave you with one final question:
Do you know Jesus?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 3:17-21
Jesus died for your sin so that you could be reconciled to God. I implore you: be reconciled to God.