Choose Joy, Personal

Take Heart ~ New Year’s Day, 2020

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13

2010-2019 was a hard decade. By far the hardest of my life. It began with a life-altering neck injury and ended with the death of an aunt. And in between, the losses were high. If I let myself stop and count them, the temptation to despair becomes very real. Loss of loved ones. Loss of the health I had previously taken for granted. Loss of a business that I had poured my heart and soul into for five years. Loss of so many dreams and hopes and visions for what the “next year” would hold.

Worst of all, there were many days that I almost lost heart.

I would be lying if I denied that I greet each new year with mixed emotions: an unsettling combination of gratitude, anticipation, hope, regret, unease, and (sometimes) downright dread. Today I am being dragged, whether I will or no, into yet another journey around the sun. I have made the journey nearly 37 times, yet each circuit is different. I never know what losses I may incur along the way, what shadows I will pass through, what deserts I will have to cross.

“What will the coming year bring? What will the coming decade bring? What will I have accomplished? Which new ventures will end in success and which will end in failure? Where will I be a year from now? Who will I be a year from now? Five years from now? Ten? When I complete my 47th circuit and am faced with the start of yet another new decade, will I still be battling the same temptations, the same fears, the same sins that hounded my soul in 2019?”

These questions, of course, lead me nowhere except to fear and anxiety over a future I cannot control. These questions are all variations on the theme of “what if?” – a question with no good answer. But there is another question, one that our Lord Jesus posed to His disciples when He sent them out into the darkness to preach and work miracles in His name: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”

Unlike the questions that my heart asks every New Year’s Day – those pesky, unanswerable questions that create so much turmoil in my soul – Jesus’ question actually has an answer. An answer that makes it possible to face the coming decade with faith and courage instead of fear and despair.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31

The 2010s were hard. So hard that I would have lost heart, if it was not for the astounding goodness of my Lord. I say “astounding,” and it is no exaggeration. His goodness infused each of the past decade’s 315 million seconds with the astonishing gift of salvation. His goodness fell like gentle, life-giving rain on every hot, parched desert through which He led my weary soul. His goodness crowned each year with a twinkle-light-festooned reminder of a Child that slew the dragon, removed the sting of death, and now reigns forevermore as the rightful King of kings. And as if all that was not enough, when the 2010s drew to a close and I began to feel terror and dread at the approach of the 2020s, His goodness stooped down and whispered to my cowering spirit that I am of more value than many sparrows. If not one of them can fall to the ground apart from His will, how much more will He hold me safely in the palm of His hand throughout this coming decade and beyond?

Do not fear the future. Do not be anxious as you begin the year or lose heart at the prospect of starting another decade. They will be filled with both blessings and losses yet unknown, but only to us. We serve a good God who knows them all, and who promises to hear us when we pray, to give us a future and a hope, and to think only good towards those who are His (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

So take heart! You are of more value than many sparrows and you will surely see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Cling to these promises and embrace 2020 with joy, believing that the same God who has sustained and blessed you thus far will not abandon you as you begin your next journey around the sun.

~ Cassandra Marie

Images by hellinger14 and d p from Pixabay

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