“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind.
This line from the popular New Year’s Eve song always bothered me. Why would I want to forget old acquaintances? It makes more sense in the literal translation, “old days gone by.” Looking back on the years of my life, each one has its share of good days gone by as well as not-so-good days gone by.
Last year was no exception. There were days I would happily forget, packing them in a box and putting them on the top shelf of the closet. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to wipe all of last year from my memory. Like life itself, there were many good days sprinkled in with the challenges.
Reflecting on 2018, there were many reasons and occasions to celebrate. I was blessed to travel to Copenhagen with my step-daughter to visit family. The trip to Israel last summer was life-changing. I made many new acquaintances throughout 2018, some of whom turned into good friends. There were new marriages celebrated and a new great niece born.
Even the tough days grew my faith and resilience and reliance on God. I’m still learning to recreate my life without Tom’s physical presence. Life after sending a loved one home to the Lord is like a beautiful vase that has fallen to the floor and shattered. God picks up the pieces and puts them back together, but we are never the same. There will always be cracks and evidence of something having been before.
But God is with me. He was with me every minute of 2018 and will be with me every step of 2019. We grow most in times of trials and challenges because we are reminded daily of our dependence on and need for Jesus.
The anticipation of a new year brings mixed emotions. Some of you are in that same season as I am having sent loved ones home to Jesus or had other challenging changes the past year. I know several people who have loved ones on the verge of death right now.
When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I always had a good cry on New Year’s Day. Sometimes it was for the good times that had gone too fast. Sometimes it was fear of what the new year might bring. I was always particularly anxious about losing loved ones or friends.
As I look back on those years, I find it strange. I knew God and trusted Him. But I knew I wasn’t in control of everything in my life. I would let anxiety take hold of my thoughts and emotions believing any great earthly loss or heartbreak would leave me crushed.
Since then, God has drawn me closer to Him and strengthened my faith and reliance on Him. He was with me when a dear friend went to heaven in 2013 after battling ovarian cancer. He gave me strength when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died in 2015. He has carried me through the days and long nights when my dear husband was diagnosed in 2012 with pancreatic cancer that began a long, yet blessed journey of four and a half years before he also went to be with Jesus.
What will 2019 bring? None of us know for sure. There will be joys–weddings, new babies, fun times with friends–as well as hard times–difficult diagnosis, continued political upheaval, personal loss.
The Lord doesn’t promise us a life of ease and comfort. In fact, Jesus warns His followers, “in this world you will have trouble.” But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says “take heart! I have overcome this world!” That’s a promise we can all believe.
And no matter what the year ahead brings, God is already there. He already knows our story and the good days and the challenges that lay before each of us.
God is above and outside of time. He is sovereign. No matter how bad things get this year, His will is still going to be accomplished in His perfect timing. He tells us to trust Him and the light He shines on our path.
Will you choose to trust and live each day as if it was the only one you have? Because it is.
Heavenly Father–thank you that You promise to be with us every minute of our lives. Thank you for so many good days and blessings and thank you that in the challenges and hard times, You draw us closer to You. Help us in this new year to always seek Your face and to show Your light and love through our lives to the world that needs You so much. In Jesus name. Amen.