Sunday, January 1, 2012

new hope in the new year

When I was a kid, I learned that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th, and that really bothered me. Why would we celebrate Jesus's birth on the wrong day? But now I think it's no mistake that Christmas comes right before the New Year celebration.

Christmas was very emotional for me this year in many ways. On the joyful side, TJ and I celebrated our very first Christmas together as a married couple. But on the less joyful side, this was our first Christmas celebrating with my parents as separate entities. The word I've been using with people when they ask about my Christmas is hectic. With my parents and my grandparents being divorced, we now celebrate Christmas in four separate places just for my side of the family. I can't express to you how deeply it hurt my soul to be at my Dad's house and not have my Mom there with us, and it was equally as painful to leave my Dad's house to celebrate with my Mom.

But I don't say all of this to bring on a pity party. We're talking about Christmas here. Christmas--the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior. Christmas is a time of beginnings. Christmas is the beginning of salvation. No matter what life might have looked like before--now that Jesus has come here to dwell among us, teach us how to be more like Him, and die so that we might live--we now have the hope of a new beginning. We now have forgiveness and grace.

And now it is a new year, and the only word that comes to mind is hope. I mentioned a long time ago on here that hope is an active verb. To hope is to wait expectantly. I have a lot of specific hopes for this upcoming year, but mostly, I am filled with the words of Romans 8:28. While 2011 was a great time of joy for TJ and me, it was also a time of sorrow. I suppose every year will have it's great joys and great sorrows, though maybe they won't be as magnified as much as our wedding and my parent's divorce. But through it all, we cling to the joys that God has brought and know that He works all things for the good of those who love him. This doesn't mean that if we love Him, everything will be good. But He will bring good out of our trials, if only we are willing to have hope and be open to seeing what He can do.

Celebrating beginnings and hope are what I, personally, needed most at the close of this year. Jesus is here, and it is a new year. So I know that I can be hopeful. I can wait in expectation for what He is going to do this year, and as I do, I trust that He is going to transform my life--not that He will prevent sorrows from coming my way, but that He will change how I see them.

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