As I sit here on NYE awaiting the arrival of the new year, I realize that much like this year’s presidential election, I may not be exactly “for” 2017 so much as I’m “anti” 2016. My word, it’s been a rough one in just about every way, shape and form. The media has focused upon the numerous deaths of celebrities; I admit, it’s been easy as a child of the 80’s to get caught up in the “what the heck?!” feeling that for some reason, 2016 set out to attack my teenage memories.
Celebrities weren’t the only ones who met tragedy over the past year. 2016 was bathed in conflict, controversy, and sadness: racial tension, police officers and criminals, natural disasters, religious doctrines, sex-trafficking, ISIS, battles over human rights. I couldn’t listen to the radio or check out social media without discovering another tug-of-war within humanity. Often times, it was too much to stomach. (We won’t even go into the hatred spewed during this year’s election.) What was happening to this world?! Is this how God created people to be?!
Toss into mix my own family trials that knocked the wind right out of us in 2016. My mother suffered a stroke in late August and is still in rehabilitation. This prompted an unexpected trip to visit her in September, during which my husband underwent an emergency appendectomy while my daughter and I were traveling back to GA from PA. (He arrived home with the help from a friend about the time I walked through our kitchen door.) My husband had other bouts in the ER throughout the year. My sister-in-law had a cancer scare and thyroid surgery. And me? Well, I received the gift of the beginnings of menopause in January and was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In March, I had a traumatic flashback from childhood that caused my depression to spiral. (I am not ready to journey down that blogger’s road by sharing the deep darkness of my past, although I am sure that day is coming.) As my depression worsened, my physician decided medication was the best route. It would be easy to bitterly, with tongue in cheek, exclaim a sarcastic, “Thank YOU, 2016!” and insert a few Fred Flintstone grumbles in place of cussing out the whole year.
Yet it will do me no good to yell and scream obscenities as Auld Lang Syne plays somewhere in the distance. The more I struggled personally, the louder God’s voice became as He guided me to one particular verse: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25, New Living Translation). I had to hold on to His promise in the midst of this tumultuous year. I’ve learned in my counseling courses that although a complete dichotomy stands between the evil in this world and the goodness that is God, making it impossible at times to believe that there can be one AND the other … both do indeed exist. God is good, He has always been good, He will always be good. Satan may have his sway on this earth now, but eternity sees him bound in hell while my God reigns forevermore. I am reminded that while suffering takes place, it – and all of this life for that matter – is temporary. My husband and I were discussing getting older and losing loved ones, and he brought up a good point. When we were very young, we thought that 40 was old. Now we are in our 40s, and we realize a lifetime has passed in the blink of an eye. Soon, Lord willing, we will be in our 60s and eventually 80s, and it, too, will fly by just as quickly as this half of our lives. Thank GOD for eternity, or what would be the point of this short little life?
So goodbye to 2016, a year of painful lessons – some visible, others, not so much. I have to hold on to my faith in God and His promise that no tears are wasted. He has a purpose for each and every one, and I praise Him for the day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT).
Welcome, 2017. And come, Lord Jesus, come.