I don’t know about you, but 2016 nearly did me in. As much as I wanted to write a perky “Happy New Year” post I just couldn’t. I just didn’t. In fact, as the old year died and the new was born I was tempted to tell 2016, “Don’t let the door hit ya’ on the way out.”
It was one of the most difficult years I have ever endured for several reasons, none of which I need to go into here because I know you have had your share of hard as well. Whether my hard looks like your hard doesn’t matter. Hard is hard.
2016 was hard.
In the weeks leading up to the end of the year, I prayed for the Lord to give me a word for 2017. This is my fourth year to do so. The same word kept surfacing in scripture, in song, and in conversation. So much so that it was pretty easy to single out what the Lord was showing me. It was a good word, one that made me think that maybe 2017 wouldn’t suck as much as 2016. So I opened up my Bible to write the word inside the front cover, just below last year’s word.
I had forgotten last year’s word. In fact, in the fog that had overtaken my brain, I had come to believe that last year’s word was the word given to me in 2015. Worth. As in, it will be worth it. Jesus is worth it. God is worthy of whatever I have to give in order to follow Him. It was a good word, but it was not 2016’s word.
Imagine my shock when I opened my Bible and there, written in black ink in my own hand, was the word that I had forgotten…HARD.
A lump leapt into my throat and I wiped away tears. God had known. He had seen what was coming and had tried to let me know that He was not surprised or shaken by the difficulties that would plague our year. But I forgot. I stumbled and doubted and failed to walk in confident belief in who He is and what He said He will do. Yet here, in front of me, was His gentle reminder…
“It will be hard, but I am here. It will be hard, but not forever. It will be hard, but I have seen this coming and nothing is beyond my control or outside the reach of my sovereignty.”
How I wished I had remembered that word throughout the year. Then again, maybe He intended for me to forget so that the impact of the word He gave me this year would be more deeply felt. Because, let me tell you, seeing this year’s word written just below the HARD word of one of the most difficult years of my life was balm to my weary soul.
You are probably wondering what this year’s word is.
It is Hope.
And hope? It colors everything I see now. It changes the way I see hard (because the turning of the year didn’t make it magically go away) and causes me to look at my circumstances through a much different filter. Hope. It gives strength when I am weary and drives me into the arms of my Father, giving me a hunger for Truth and a longing for revelation. It pulls me up out of the pit and allows me to believe in a happy ending, in a story whose hero is on his way to bring resolution.
Hope changes everything. In God’s mercy He has promised a turnaround and, though He has not guaranteed the hard will end He gives me Hope as an anchor, firm and secure. So I’m holding on and determined to thank Him for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do! I’m praying I won’t be blissfully relieved when 2017 draws to a close, but maybe I’ll be a little misty eyed and sentimental.
Yes, that would be a nice change!
Did you ask God for a word this year? If so, I’d love to hear what He revealed to you. I am always amazed at how He honors our requests when we seek Him and lean in to hear His voice.