I chose the above photo from a very stormy day on what was suppose to be a relaxing vacation this past summer. It's a lot like life itself, isn't it? What we want and what we get can be two totally different things.
I think of the song from the movie "Sound of Music" quite often. It's where Maria is going out of the convent for the first time to be a governess for seven children. And she sings - "what will this day be like....I wonder." And it came into my head again as we approach a brand new year. Only the words have changed to be - "what will this year be like.....I wonder."
I can say, with complete honesty, that year 2016 and 2017 have been the worst years that I can ever remember going through. So, wondering what 2018 has in store isn't too far-fetched.
I awakened at 3:00 this morning. For me, waking up in the middle of the night is not uncommon. I'm a person who tosses and turns on most nights and sometimes I lay there for a while before going back to sleep. But this was a little different. Everything sad and bad came to my mind and I just couldn't lie there a minute longer.
I got up and went out to our living room, turning up the heat and a few lights, and grabbed my Bible. I needed to hear from God and His Word. I've been in Psalm 119 for a long time (which happens to be the longest Psalm in the Bible) and with every break in the Psalm I write "prayer notes" and "praise notes" so I continued with that. By the time 4:00 a.m. rolled around, I was finished with Psalm 119 and was up to Psalm 136! Still taking notes on everything I need to be reminded of. I stopped at Psalm 136 because it said what I needed to hear before I could go back to bed and continue my rest.
I'm going to write it down for you as well only in bullet points (not adding to it nor taking anything away). In the Bible the words "His love endures forever" comes after each point, so I'm going to trust that after each bullet point, you will insert those wonderful words on your own for sake of brevity. Here they are:
*Give thanks to the Lord for He is good
*Give thanks to the God of gods
*Give thanks to the Lord of lords
*to him who alone does great wonders
*who by his understanding made the heavens
*who spread out the earth upon the waters
*who made the great lights
*the sun to govern the day
*the moon and stars to govern the night
*to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
*and brought Israel out from among them
*with a mighty hand and outstretched arm
*to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
*and brought Israel through the midst of it
*but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea
*to him who led his people through the desert
*who struck down great kings
*and killed mighty kings
*Sihon king of the Amorites
*and Og king of Bashan
*and gave their land as an inheritance
*an inheritance to his servant Israel
*to the One who remembered us in our low estate
*and freed us from our enemies
*and gives food to every creature.
*Give thanks to the God of heaven.
I felt great comfort after reading these words. I was able to go back to bed and finish my rest.
It doesn't take any of what has happened in the past couple of years away. It doesn't change things or situations or people. What it does do is reminds us that God is God. Whether we agree with what He has chosen for us to go through is not the point. It's whether we will continue to hold Him in awe. It's whether we will trust Him. It's whether we will still come humbly before Him and confess our great need for Him. Whether He parts the waters for us to walk through or not is up to Him because He knows. Even though we walk through our own deserts at times, I need to remember that He still continues to provide food and water for us. And I HAVE to be reminded of that - sometimes on a moment-by-moment basis. Because it IS hard.
So, we come to another year. I hope we can always be reminded of the Christmas Promise. It may be cliche' but let's try to keep Christmas in our hearts in this new year. When we think of the hardships we face, let us remember those who are also going through difficulty. Let's continue to give. Let's continue to look to the Lord for the strength and guidance we need. We cannot do this life without Him - it just doesn't work.
"And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." May you experience this peace in the upcoming year. No. Matter. What. God bless.