December 31, 2018. Here we are on the cusp of another new year. I know several people who are happy to say goodbye to this year, having encountered some difficult challenges and hardships. Maybe you can relate.
As we go through each year, there are ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, good days and not so good days. It is true that some years are worse than others. For me, this has been a year punctuated by great blessings, but there have been times when my mantra has been “this too will pass.”
There will always be challenges in our lives. Sometimes we may shake our fist at heaven and demand answers. Sometimes things can happen that overwhelm us. This too will pass, I promise. The pain of the moment will shift eventually and balance returns. Sometimes the biggest difficulty we face can be the key that transforms us for good.
When we ride out a life challenge like a rodeo rider on a wild bucking bull, we can find out many things about ourselves. We may get thrown off and hit the ground hard, but when we stand up, dust ourselves off, there is much we can take away from the experience. We discover that we are stronger than we thought. We discover who is truly there when we have a need. We realize that we understand what others go through at a whole new level. And, we count our blessings a whole lot more.
The hardest thing for me is to hear folks blaming God for the hardship. This is the result of bad theology and wrong understandings and keeps many people separated from Creator and the blessings that are available to them.
As people who follow Jesus, we should know better. Jesus came to show us the way back to God by his teachings and his actions. He healed the sick, embraced the outcast, forgave sinners, and promoted compassion, kindness, justice, mercy and above all, LOVE.
When hardships befall us, we want to look for a culprit. We need to point a finger. We want to know why this has happened to me?! We think, “Who can erase it all? God. “Who isn’t making it go away yet? God.” We turn up the volume. “Where the heck is God, anyway? Hello? A little help here, please?” We look to almighty Creator and (wrongly) come to the conclusions that we are being punished or somehow targeted.
No no no no no.
God does not visit terrible things upon us. Just the opposite. God is with us on the bull, sometimes holding us and breaking our fall. It is through our faith in God that we come to understand grace and healing. It is through reading Scripture and seeing how Jesus stretches out his hand and heals people from all walks and stations of life, that we can understand he is stretching out his hand to us too. He says to the people,”do not be afraid.” He says,”Your faith has made you well.” He says this to each one of us too.
As we move into this new year, this is an important truth to take to heart. God loves you.
God has your back and is there when you are in need. God does not cause the accident or the illness or the job loss or the misfortune. God sees you as a beloved child and extends love, blessing, healing and good things to you. What is required on our part? Trust, patience, prayer, meditation, and an understanding that answers do not always come in the way we think.
If we start each day with a prayer of thanksgiving, counting our blessings and offering God our grateful hearts, then our day will bring ways for us to be grateful. As we focus on the positive aspects of our lives, the obstacles and challenges that pop up are dealt with more easily. Knowing that Creator is with us -not against us- means that we can give thanks that the situation is already being handled, for our highest and best.
I believe that 2019 will be outstanding. May we remember to walk each day prayerfully and gratefully. This attitude will affect everyone around you, reaping great benefits and transforming hearts to be filled with more kindness, compassion and caring,
Also! Your prayer journal is an invaluable tool. New year, new fresh page. Write down the needs and concerns of your heart and those of others, and watch how each gets crossed off as you review each week. Our God is an awesome God and you will see prayers being answered and things being resolved. You will come to understand how very much you are loved and cherished.
Here is a little prayer I found on the Loyola website:
God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.
As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.
Happy New Year, everyone.