As I wrap up this year and prepare to head into the next, my heart swirls with a mixed mess of emotions. There are griefs over what has been lost in the last 12 months—the sleepless nights wasted in worry as our loved one spun out of control, the monies squandered to cover his manic spending, the emptiness that hollowed out my soul when his wife left with our grandchildren.
But there are also tidal waves of gratitude as we have watched the devastating cycle recede and ripples of stillness and sanity return. There are memories of kind empathy from friends and powerful prayers from the people of God.
I am tempted to describe this last year as living like a tumbleweed on a wide desert, emotions thrown one way and then another, with neither anchor nor map to steady or guide. However, as I look back I know this has not been the case. We have never been aimless or lost. God has encircled me, our family and Douglas. His “ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1) made it possible for us to endure the past and have confident hope to face the future.
I think there is a reason we celebrate Christmas right before we celebrate a new year. At Christmas we are reminded that God came to dwell with us, to walk with us, to cry with us, to rejoice with us every step of the next 365 days. Christmas tells us that peace, love and joy have been made real and will continue to be real in the months ahead. Because of Christmas, we can be equipped with hope for whatever we encounter next. The hope of Christmas inspires us to keep believing, to keep trusting, to keep on keeping on.
Hope is the anchor that enables us to endure. Hope that God is with us can get us through our loved one’s next manic episode, their ongoing depression, the impossible housing challenges, the ridiculous mental health services maze, the medication morass.
Hope assures us that the King in the manager will reign over our loved one, no matter what.
A blessing prayer for our new year:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. So that as you hope in the Lord, you will renew your strength. You will soar on wings like eagles; you will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not be faint.
(adapted from Romans 15:13; Isaiah 40:31)
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