From a natural perspective, I'm not that enthused about 2015 anyway. This past year held some really heavy moments of loss for me and for many who are close to our family. We said good-bye to two dearly loved seminary professors who had a profound impact on my life and spiritual growth; to a remarkable young woman with an unmatched God-given gift for loving children, including my daughter; and to two more babies early in pregnancy, bringing our number of children in Heaven to five. Plus I have a number of other dear friends who also experienced pregnancy or infant loss in 2014, and I have grieved hard with them as well.
While in some ways, it is good to close the door on the year, it is also hard to see it go, because 2014 is when those loved ones lived. It was the last year we would share this earth with them. Moving on feels dreadfully like we are leaving them behind.
Besides, I know from past experience that when one year is filled with loss, the next is often not much easier. The year 2015 will bring anniversaries of those losses, would-have-been due dates, and reminders of what could have been if only. That makes me feel pretty helpless in some ways, because in all honesty, if I were in charge and could turn back the clock to January 1, 2014, and prevent some of the awful events from happening last year, I would. I would.
Of course, I'm not in charge. God is.
More than in charge, He is sovereign - one of those theology-ish words that means nothing in this world happens without His permission. Nothing. It does not mean that everything that happens brings Him pleasure - there is much in the Bible, actually, about God being grieved by the events of human history, whether large or small. But He is still sovereign. And just as He orchestrated and allowed certain events to happen in Nazareth and Jerusalem and Bethlehem over 2000 years ago in order to bring about the first coming of the Messiah, He has been working to bring the events of 2014, both amazing and tragic, into alignment with His plans. And He is working even now to bring the future events of 2015 into alignment as well, both for our good and for His glory.
Now, at the end of a tumultuous year, is a good time to ask ourselves if we really believe that. Do we really believe that God is in control? And, if we do, and He did not protect our hearts from hurt this past year, do we still believe that He is still worthy of our love and worship?
Oh, friend who is hurting beyond belief from the events of 2014, He is. That is part of the message of Christmas that we must carry into the new year, that the baby of the manger, God with us, grew up and suffered, in part so that He would experientially know what is means when we suffer. If we let Him, He will walk with us through every single awful and wonderful event in our lives, and if we place our faith in Him, His Holy Spirit will fill us with unexplainable peace and strength for the days to come.
So as I watch the calendar dates pass resolutely one after the other, leading up to New Year's Eve, I am taking some time to ponder. To pray. To ask for perspective on the year that is closing, and for perseverance for the year that is coming up. And for this awareness of His presence to linger with me, long after the Christmas lights come down.
Because more than an organized life, more than a trim body, more than a healthy portfolio, I need Him in 2015. I need my Jesus, my Savior, the one who came to be with us so that we could be with Him, now and forever.
And (if I may be so bold), so do you. I desperately hope you know Him and, if not, that you seek Him and find Him in 2015. If I can in any way point you in the right direction, it would be a great honor.
May you have a blessed and gentle transition to 2015, and may you know His presence more deeply than ever before.