A week ago, we greeted everyone from our dearest to strangers, “Happy New Year!” Sometimes sincerely intended as a blessing for their year, other times more in the thoughtless vernacular of “How are you?” that doesn’t expect a real reply. In those days surrounding January 1st, most of us took some kind of inventory, trying…hoping… to nurture a happier new year.
I heard the greeting roll of my tongue, as I hugged a young professional woman who found her best friend dead this year. I whispered it into the ear of a boy, whose family was repeatedly slammed by severe emergencies last year, mom and dad, brother and sister, and his own three-year-old body rushed to the hospital at different times. “I love you up to the sky,” he whispered back. And I wiped my eyes in his hair.
I know clouds are rolling towards all of us. In spite of all our best efforts, pain will find us and and try to convince us that it’s too much. Unfair. Pointless.
Already feeling the chill of those approaching clouds, my heart cradles the many I wished Happy New Year, the many I hold so dear. Several of them are battling cancer or watching their loved ones devoured by it. The greeting sounds hollow now, almost cruel, and I wonder what might have been a stronger blessing?
Peaceful New Year.
Victorious New Year.
Wise New Year.
Brave New Year.
May you look into the year ahead with your head held high, no matter what winds will whip your hair and burn your eyes. Not in pride, but “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
May you stand erect on the solid ground, not of your own strength, but of the unshakable work of Jesus. When He redeemed you from death and darkness, He promised you that you would and could take every step forward in His strength. When panic thunders in your ears, as it will, may you hear His breath close to your soul whisper,
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
May you walk into the cloud of the unknown, knowing He will meet you there. When others urge you to hold back, but you sense Him calling you forward, may you go anyway. There are places with Him not everyone goes – – – like close to a bloody, excruciating Cross. Of the many who proclaimed loud bravery, only one male disciple followed Him there. May that be you.
When uncertainty pulls the rug from under you, may you know that He carries you close to His heart. When questions seem to undermine your faith, may you stand on what you know, not what you don’t.
Corrie Ten Boom describes walking with her dad, asking him questions too heavy for her age. Instead of answering her, he places his heavy briefcase on the ground and asks her to carry it for him. “Daddy, I want to, but I can’t. It’s too heavy for me; I’m too small.” “And so it is with the answers you seek. When you can carry my briefcase, I will answer them.”
“Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Oswald Chambers suggests,”Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows…
Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.” (My Utmost for His Highest, July 29)
May we know deeper Him this year.
“From the cloud You speak
What was veiled now is seen
Jesus the image of
The invisible God
In the transfigured Word
A kingdom once concealed
On the earth now revealed”
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;”