“The best is yet to come” is a phrase I have heard many times in my life but over the last couple of years I have found it hard to believe through certain seasons of challenge and difficulty. As I sat holding my sleeping toddler on Christmas Day evening the tears started rolling down my face as I remembered the last two Christmases and how they had both been tinged with grief and sadness.
Christmas 2013 was just eight weeks after we lost our infant son. On Christmas 2014 we had lost my grandma just a few days before. I had come to the end of both those years exhausted and heartbroken. I honestly couldn’t see past my grief some days. But as I held my little boy this Christmas I realized how much hope I had this year. It wasn’t because everything had been perfect—2015 has had its own struggles and challenges. Yet it has also been a year where I have begun to see the answer to many prayers, some of which I had never even spoken out loud.
As I started to reflect and pray about the New Year ahead for 2016 I felt a new level of resilience and strength that I haven’t felt in a long time. 2015 has not only been a year of answered prayers but has also been a significant year in the healing of my heart and body. Until you experience grief, you never realize how long it takes to heal and what an effect it has on you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
After experiencing years of infertility and miscarriage and then losing our newborn son I was bruised and battered from the battle and was almost “waiting for the next shoe to drop.” When many things go badly in a short period of time that feeling is a natural human reaction. Every part of me was exhausted and there were many days it took all my energy just to get out of bed and face the day. But slowly over time I began to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As 2015 began I felt like it would be a significant year but I couldn’t say how or why. Then in the early summer of last year it became very clear why this year would be significant in more ways than one. In May God called us to a new city and a new job. He called us to continue to trust him on the journey on which he was taking us. When we said yes he began to show how much he loved us and reminded us how faithful he really is. I’d like to say that I didn’t need him to prove to me that he was trustworthy but in my frail human nature there were many times over the past few years that I felt he had let me down. Even though he had shown his faithfulness a thousand times before he also knew what my heart needed.
That’s the incredible thing about God, he doesn’t just love me, he loves me extravagantly. He doesn’t just provide for my needs, he exceeds my expectations and gives me more than I could have ever asked for. He provided for every detail of our move—from the jobs we got to the house we live in to the wonderful family who helps look after Jackson.
I think the biggest thing I will take from 2015 is that the Father loves us in our brokenness and continues to lavish his generosity on us even when we are unsure and find it hard to trust him. He builds us up piece by piece and makes us stronger than we were before. People sometimes tell me I’m strong and brave because of all that I’ve been through but honestly it’s just my Heavenly Father in me that makes me strong. Without him I am frail and broken but in him I am whole, brave and strong.
So as I step in 2016 I step with new strength. I feel like he is calling me to be decisive and determined this year, to take on new ground. The word he gave me for this year is “resolute.” Resolute means determined, faithful, and unwavering.
As I dug more deeply into what that word meant I found that the synonyms of it are faithful, loyal, constant, staunch and steadfast. As I read each of those definitions the Lord began to highlight all the areas in my life that he wanted me to be resolute.
He has also given me the verse 1 Corinthians 15: 58 as a theme for this year.
The NIV translation says:
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
The Message says:
“ With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”
As I read that verse I felt the Lord calling me to look at the areas of my life where I do things out of obligation or guilt or out of misplaced responsibility. He revealed to me that if those are my reasons then it will always feel like a waste of time but if I am doing them for him with determination then I will have a whole new perspective. If they are things that he has called me to do then this is the attitude I should do them with. But if they are not what he has called me to do then I should let someone else do them or maybe just let them go.
I don’t know how the last year has been for you. Maybe it has been filled with heartache. Maybe it has been filled with joy. Or maybe it has been almost an even mixture of both. Whatever it has been, I urge you to reflect on the last year and all that it has taught you and then ask God to show you what he has for you in 2016. Maybe this new year will be about healing for you or maybe it will be about breakthrough. Maybe God will speak to you about strength or maybe persistence. Just allow the Lord to show you and then dig deep into what he is calling you into this year…. the best is yet to come!