New Year, Same Hope

January 1, 2012: another holiday season behind us and a brand new year in front of us!  Exciting or depressing as that may be,  I usually have one of two reactions to January: complete hibernation or an obsessive dedication to radical change in every area of life. Nothing like realism to start a new year!

Spending lots of time with family sometimes adds to my desire to either run (far far away) or to completely transform myself asap.  Families, even the healthiest happiest ones, all have issues and bad patterns and their own kind of baggage.  If you, like some of us, are emerging from a holiday haze induced by some personal and family brokenness, here are some points of encouragement:

Christmas doesn’t end at the manger.  Christ came and lived and died and rose again.  That reality infuses even the most difficult relationships, family or otherwise, with hope for the future.  It also puts 2012 in its proper perspective: I don’t need to run and I don’t need to transform myself.  I am His workmanship, and He’s still working on me.

Family, though good, is the not the goal.  In this context, it’s often easy to want to be rescued from family issues by someone (anyone!) of the husband persuasion.  But that gets things mixed up: spouses don’t fix family problems, and they always have their own.  Our truest calling is not to human marriage but to Christ himself.

My friend E put it beautifully in a recent email:

I think of what He has called us to… to glorify Him in all that we do and enjoy Him forever. If this is our primary purpose, how are we enjoying Him right now in this time and place? Are the thoughts that find our minds the most frequently ones that bring us greater joy of who he is? Are the activities and conversations where we spend a hearty portion of our time and energy leading us closer to counting all things joy and giving us better vision that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him?

And, in interest of honest candor, I can’t answer those affirmatively. Worry, exhaustion, pain, and self-pity creep in ever so softly… and its only Grace that kicks them back where they belong… in the proverbial gutter. And strangely, this call we have to Him has very little to do with singleness… but everything to do with the lesser gods I truly believe this prince of darkness tries to convince us will bring meaning to our pain and brokenness, essentially clouding our vision to the Kingdom we are truly in. That said, I have seen and heard each of you choose joy and live as such in bold, fearless ways. And so, perhaps I remind myself to not grow weary in this choosing. 

And as we fast and pray tomorrow, I will pray that your 2012 starts with much hope, and that we stay rooted in Christ and His finished work on our behalf.

In His grace,


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7 Responses to New Year, Same Hope

  1. Neelam says:

    Thanks for the post and the quote!

  2. miss says:


    I agree with your last statement completely.

  3. capeviolet says:

    thanks for the words – so true and just brought me out of a lulling sense of disappointment and despondency towards the year ahead… nothing has changed in the past, life carries on and I crumble and harden again.
    yet our God is there… my prayer is to experience his love and peace and promise when I cannot see the way and when despair settles in
    the years have turned me into a cynic (as Katy quotes above and my spirit has been deadened).
    how to keep on hoping, dreaming and asking when nothing seems to bear fruit.
    so easy to encourage others but when it comes to my life its so hard and I am so tired of fighting!

    • fast. pray. says:

      One of the things I’ve done recently to receive life in that place in my soul where hardness could creep in to cover over sadness is seek to lean into Jesus’ presence. That’s not always an obvious thing to know how to do–i.e. what does that really mean? But for me, listening to truth sung slowly and deeply by an old-time gospel/blues singer, Mahalia Jackson, enables my brain to slow down and just receive truth. Her “His Eye is on the Sparrow” is just one example. Maybe gospel music doesn’t get you ‘there,’ as it does me–but whatever enables you to sit and receive HIS LOVE is so much of the way past or beyond cynicism. There are those places in our soul where we just need LOVE to fill us–and our only responsibility is to put ourselves in a position to receive, and then just to ask.

      Anyhow, that song has been one of the ways God has loved me.

      Blessings in the journey–HE IS REAL AND GOOD…..

  4. katy says:

    one of my new years resolutions is to be less cynical, more hopeful….not praying with the belief that of course God wont come through, but the belief that He will, and that He is already working for my good, even if it doesn’t feel good at the moment. Wanted to share this quote:

    “To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit…
    A praying life is just the opposite. It engaged evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty. Cynicism, on the other hand, merely critiques. It is passive, cocooning itself from the passions of the great cosmic battle we are engaged in. It is without hope.”
    ― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

    • Gina says:

      That’s a good resolution! I’d like to read that book. I love good books about prayer, and a book that says, “Prayer is feisty” sounds like a very good book indeed!

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