Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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When You Aren’t Looking Forward To The New Year

Photo courtesy of Alon via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Alon via Flickr

The dawning of a new year spells anticipation for many. For others, however, beginning a new calendar may bring an onset of discouragement.

If your current situation appears full of promise, the New Year arrives loaded with possibilities. If you are feeling stuck in grief, uncertainty, unmet longings, relational pain or physical affliction, the prospect of another year of pain and darkness seems quite unattractive.

As one who is entering this New Year with a personally difficult year behind me, I can attest that I find myself nervously wondering what these next twelve months will bring.

At times I feel afraid, angry, discouraged, and stuck. Sometimes I forget that God can swing open a door of clarity, opportunity, and blessing when I least expect it. In one of these dark moments, I stumbled upon a most encouraging word while reading in a book entitled “Oh Holy Night: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry.”  The message took my breath away and I have been returning to this poem again and again over the past few weeks. This is the reminder which I am bringing into the New Year. And so, I pass these words to you:

If some King of the earth

Have so large an extent of Dominion,

in north, and south,

As that he hath winter and summer

together in his dominions;

So large an extent east and west,

As that he hath day and night,

together in his dominions;

Much more hath God

mercy and judgment together.

 He brought light out of darkness,

not out of a lesser light;

He can bring thy summer out of winter,

though thou have no Spring.

Though in the ways of fortune,

or understanding, or conscience,

Thou have been benighted till now,

wintered and frozen,

clouded and eclipsed,

damped and benumbed,

smothered and stupefied till now,

Now God comes to thee,

not as in the dawning of the day,

not as in the bud of the spring,

But as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows,

As the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries.

All occasions invite his mercies,

And all times are his seasons.

— John Donne

Sermon for Christmas Day, 1624

Here we are, on the cusp of an unknown new year, in the midst of the winter season. I am scared and I feel stuck. But when I read these words, I feel hope rising in my heart. God is greater than the seasons of my life, and I can never predict when He will suddenly burst upon the scene.

I am reminded of Hagar, the servant-wife of Abram, who ran away from Sarai’s harsh treatment and dropped under a bush in the middle of nowhere, exhausted and pregnant and ready to die. And what happened? God came to her in the first recorded theophany. Here she was, curled up under a bush, ready to die, when she discovered the most amazing fact of her life: God sees me. And even further, she saw Him, too: “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).

It was winter in Hagar’s life, but God skipped over spring and summer, bursting forth into her life with an autumn harvest by coming to her. Perhaps Hagar’s story will touch your heart as it did mine. So, if you find yourself in a soul-winter this New Year’s season, or curled up under a bush in the desert, take heart. He sees you. And He will come to you.

When you aren’t looking forward to the new year, remember:

“All occasions invite his mercies,

And all times are his seasons.”

— John Donne

About Sarah Morrison

Sarah has always loved other cultures, and dreamt of Asia from the time she was a teenager. She thought she'd work in some remote tribal village, but ended up teaching English to university students in China. She fell so much in love with her students that it took her five years to say goodbye. In 2013, she returned to the States to be near her family and see if God had stateside plans for her. In 2015, God surprised her with the gift of marrying David Lewis. Sarah now teaches ESL to international students. She loves books, coffee shops and relational ministry. She occasionally blogs at http://sarahmorrisonscribblings.blogspot.com/
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