Dear 2016, you were an anomaly. I just want to tell you a little bit about yourself so you and I can end on favorable terms. So, here we go…
That about sums it up, but I still have hope. As I was making a me-in-2016 meme, I was reminded that much of what I think is perspective. I have the power to change the way I think and see. This year isn’t over. I’m still standing. You’re still standing. We’re all still standing. And maybe that’s the point! We’re each invited to think differently and in life giving ways.
We were not overtaken by the storm. We learned to stand still. We learned to wait. We learned how to walk through fire. We saw we could rise from our deepest pain and into steady hope. We found we were not crushed by the weight of our troubles. We found our faith again. We saw the hand of God move upon our lives in ways we could not have ever imagined. We experienced unprecedented grace when all hell was breaking loose. We did not lose our minds nor our peace. God was and is with us, and He’s inviting us to keep on standing – to rise from falling down.
God wept with us. He grieved with us. He laughed with us. He soldiered on with us. Never once did God leave us alone. He stood with us in our agony. He wiped away the stain from our flood of tears. He heard our woeful, clamoring complaints as we wrestled away our doubts and misgivings in soulful, gut wrenching prayer. He placed His hand upon our chins, tuned our heads toward His, looked on us with redeeming love, and gently admonished us to look up and see His goodness. He made us uncomfortable with our complacency. He beckoned us to be “as He is in the world,” and God has given us the love, grace, and all we need to do His work of reconciliation. He has been good to us through it all.
This is the meaning of Christmas. This is hope. This is our Advent King who comes and enters our right-now and leads us into freedom. Christ has come and will come again expanding our capacity to love and be like Him no matter the situation. He has and continues to equip you and I to be salt and light. He empowers us to do the impossible. This is the meaning of Christmas – Christ has come to redeem us and set things right. Perhaps 2017 is more about us allowing Christ to set things right through us – His body, His church. And maybe that’s how the world will know we are Christians. It’s in the way we love, the way we show mercy, the way we love those who offend us, in the way we love our enemies, and imitate Christ everywhere.
Friends, I don’t even begin to guess what your 2016 was like. Maybe it was all good. Maybe it was a train wreck. Maybe it was a hot mess wrapped in a beautiful ache for goodness. Perhaps it was a mix of all this. But this much I know is true, we are not our circumstances. We are not the failures or mishaps we suffered this year. We are not what has happened to us. We are not the condemnation some would love to heap on us. We are NOT without hope. I look back over this year and think, “thank God because He never once let me go; thank God, He didn’t let me wallow long in my pity or despair.” Things may not have turned out the way I wanted or needed, but I have hope, and God is still faithful. This year isn’t over, and I know redemption is near.
I still believe in miracles. I still believe that I will see the goodness of God in the land living. So I rise. I rise. I rise. I stand on the promises of God who is with me. I can run this race. He gives me beauty for ashes. I encourage you friends to see again what this year ha wrought. Look for the tiniest shreds of hope and light. They are there hiding under the debris and dust of our trials and adversities. Stand, friends. Hold fast, friends. Hold faith, friends. Do. Not. Give. Up.
Perspective shifts our hearts and the way we address our circumstances. Imagine how things can change when we alter our perspective. Where can you unearth a bit of light and hope today? I encourage you to look for it. It’s there.