Thursday, January 1, 2015
All Things New
2014 was one of those years.
You know the kind. My husband continued at an "in between" job that pays less than a living wage, subsequent to his job loss in October of 2013. This is the sixth time we've been in this type of situation in 16 years. The financial strain caused me to get a second job just to make ends meet, in addition to caring for my 3 medically-needy children and running a non-profit. My work days switched to a new routine of 10-14 hours in addition to managing the children's health. Bullying was at a high in the first half of the year, and despite it waning in the second half, increased asthmatic episodes and lower lung capacity took its place. Frustration increased as our eldest remained without diagnosis, pain persisting despite physical therapy. Fleas moved in after dog-sitting in October and remain, despite copious treatment, the bugs likely thinking our dog to be a great place to ring in the New Year. The veterinarian's office says we should be golden after 3 months, if we persist with treating all of our pets. Joy. My husband bought a car back in early November, which has repeatedly stalled out, needing repairs at least 4 times since it's purchase. More joy. Monday, the hematologist brought our 14-year-old son to a deep philosophical crossroads as he discussed new treatments coming down the pipeline for hemophilia treatment. And just to make sure we ended the year on a consistent note, our youngest made her first visit to the chiropractor on New Year's Eve for the persistent back pain that has kept her awake most nights this past month.
We sound like cartoon characters with rain clouds continuously hanging over our heads!
Sadly, 2014 doesn't sound much different from our 2013... or 2012... or 2011... or 2010. You get the idea.
That prompted me to ask some of our parents who are interacting in a private Facebook small group if they are saying every New Year's Eve, "Boy, am I glad to put THIS year behind us!". I transparently shared that I was tired of having one year after another feel like a bad dream. Their replies to my question and comment were heartbreaking.
I was shocked to learn how many of us have one year looking much like another -- struggle melding into endless struggle. It's hard to feel hope in a New Year when past hopes of improvement have only been met with disappointment.
And yet, in reality, if we believe in Jesus, we can hang our hope on Him. Even if our eyes cannot see it, He IS making all things NEW. God is glorified through the suffering He allows in our lives. WHAT? I'll say it again, God is glorified by the suffering He allows in our lives. All we need to do is cooperate with that suffering. Easy to say, hard to do. When people see us smiling in spite of our heavy sorrows, they just might believe that Jesus can offer them hope too. If we can show gratitude in spite of our circumstances, then the size of others troubles just might shrink. Surviving some of our seemingly impossible situations points people to our Mighty Lord, who is BIGGER than any human trial we can face. Because of all this, Paul was prompted to write in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day." (TLB)
As PROMISING and AMAZING as this is, there are days where this still seems like hollow consolation to parents who face year after year of difficulty and sadness. When those times hit, I point you to where I pointed these dear fellow parents, who are enduring things in their children like life-threatening seizures, ICU hospitalization, violent behaviors, as well as parental illness or joblessness. When you lose sight that He is making all things NEW, pray the following prayer with us...
PRAY: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12, NIV) LORD, we need the HOPE that only You can give. Hear our cries for help! Restore our JOY. Lifter of our heads, keep our eyes focused on You and Your GLORY, rather than our sorrows. Holy Spirit, guard our hearts and minds. Help us to feel in very real ways how we and our families are enfolded in Your constant loving-care. In Jesus' all-powerful Name we pray. Amen.
~ Barb Dittrich