I’m sitting in my hammock in the backyard. The girls are having quiet time (aka I don’t care what you’re doing in your room as long as I don’t see your face for an hour time) and I have decided to write a New Year’s post. I was thinking something along the lines of “Resolutions every parent should make” or “New rhythms for your family this year” or “How to slow down your life in 2019.” You know, something uplifting and helpful as we march our way into the happy new year! celebration.
But then, I started thinking of all these people close to me, so many friends and family members who are looking into the new year with dread, fear, and swirling unknowns. I have someone close to me facing discouraging news in cancer treatment, someone who’s lost custody of their child, someone just starting the work of diagnosis and therapies for a little one, someone engaged in a court battle to bring their child home, and so, so many more.
So what do we do when our new year isn’t looking happy? How do we process difficult circumstances, and help others in our lives to do the same?
We cling to the belief that our God is good, all the time.
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” His character does not change based on our circumstances. The same God I praised when my two healthy children were born is the same God I cried out to when I learned I had miscarried. He does not change. And He is big enough, strong enough, powerful enough to receive all of my emotions. All of my anger, questions, and doubts.
And He is always good.
So what does that look like? What do we do to believe that?
Here are three practices that have been helpful to me:
1)Start with the truth you know.
When I first learned of a close family member’s cancer diagnosis, I was wrecked. I didn’t know where to start with God, and quite honestly, didn’t really want to talk to Him. So I took out my journal, and started writing what I knew. God made the earth. God made me. God loves me. It looked like pre-school sunday school lessons, but it helped me remember what I know about God, and what that says about Him. That He is good.
2) Find a song that speaks to you. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Worship music is huge for me. I will often listen to a song on repeat for a season, even if I don’t quite believe what I’m singing. It might take my heart some time to catch up, but it helps stretch me into the next faith step I need to take.
Here are a few favorite lyrics of mine and the songs they come from (links lead to the songs on YouTube):
- “I’m no longer a slave to fear // I am a child of God” – No Longer Slaves
- “I didn’t know I’d find you here // in the middle of my deepest fear” – Find You Here
- “And far be it from me to not believe // Even when my eyes can’t see” – It Is Well
- “Earth has no sorrow // that heaven can’t heal” – Come As You Are
3) Come near to God.
In everything, God wants us to come to Him. He would rather me come to Him, beating my fists against His chest and crying “No fair!” than for me to stay away. James 4:8 promises, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Find a quiet place to be. Tell God how you’re feeling (I usually do this in a journal). Or just sit in His presence. And do it again tomorrow. And the next day.
We’re promised in Romans 8:28 that God works in all things (not just good, exciting, meaningful, joyful things) for the good of those who love Him. If you’re facing a not-so-happy new year, just remember this: Our God is still good. Even when our circumstances are not.